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IMO approves new training requirements for seafarers in polar waters

IMO approves new training requirements for seafarers in polar waters
Ship masters and navigating officers must complete special training before navigating in ice, and those on passenger ships must have more comprehensive training, under new requirements approved by the International Maritime Organization.

According to the Danish Maritime Authority, one of the requirements is that seafarers must acquire an improved understanding of the limitations to the crew, ship and equipment when operating in cold and desolate areas, with poor or no infrastructure in case of, for example, accidents and pollution.

The requirements will be incorporated in the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention and are expected to enter into force at the turn of the year 2018. However, IMO urged countries to act faster so the regulations can become effective when the Polar Code enters into force in January 2017.

The training requirements distinguish between a basic level and a more advanced level for the crew. In addition, masters and navigating officers of passenger ships (and tankers) engaged on voyages in ice are required to meet more comprehensive training requirements.

Agreement was reached about the proposal for the new set of regulations at the second session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping. This occurred in connection with the coming internationally binding regulations on navigation in polar waters—the so-called Polar Code—and the text will now be forwarded to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval in June.

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