IMO called this a historic milestone in the organization’s work to 'protect ships and people aboard them, both seafarers and passengers, in the harsh environment of the waters surrounding the two poles.'
The provisions of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters are expected to enter into force Jan. 1, 2017. New ships constructed after that date will be required to comply.
Vessels built before 2017 will be required to meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after Jan. 1, 2018.
Because it contains both safety- and environment-related provisions, the Polar Code will be mandatory under both SOLAS and MARPOL. In October IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee approved the necessary draft amendments to make the environmental provisions in the Polar Code mandatory under MARPOL.
The MEPC is expected to adopt the code and associated MARPOL amendments at its next session in May, with an entry-into-force date to be aligned with the SOLAS amendments.