Polar Code Comments Due 9/1/14 & USCG Workshop Update

On Thursday August 14, 2014 the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) held a Polar Code Workshop in Seattle, WA. The Polar Code is in the process of becoming a mandatory code for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)  through adoption by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of international regulations for certified ships over 500 GT and vessels with more than 12 passengers operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters.

2014.09.04 - Polar Code Comments Due 9114 & USCG Workshop Update

The USCG Workshop in Seattle provided detailed information to the shipping industry, other stakeholders including indigenous peoples and other communities affected by Arctic shipping traffic, and the public about the status and updates to the draft Polar Code.  The Workshop was also intended to help inform the USCG as it leads development of U.S. positions in preparation for meetings of the IMO this fall and spring to consider adoption of the Polar Code.  The Workshop was lead by Captain John Mauger, Chief of the Coast Guard’s Office Design & Engineering Standards and head of the U.S. IMO Delegation.

Materials related to the Polar Code, including the draft Code and public comments submitted, are located in the USCG’s public docket at USCG-2014-0515. The USCG also plans to post presentations from the Workshop in Seattle to the docket. Public Comments may be submitted to the docket until September 1, 2014.  For those who where not able to attend the Workshop in Seattle, over the next week the USCG Blog “Maritime Commons” will be including after-action reports on what was covered by USCG spokespersons at the Workshop. You can also follow USCG’s tweets about its Polar Code meetings on http://www.Twitter.com @MaritimeCommons.

USCG Seattle Polar Code Workshop

USCG spokesperson and Seattle Workshop organizer, Lt. Andrew Gibbons of the Office of Design and Engineering Standards, provided an overview of the structure of the draft Polar Code and the IMO Polar Code adoption process.  Lt. Gibbons explained that regulations proposed for inclusion in the Polar Code first go through an IMO regulation approval process and 6 months later a regulation adoption process.  Following IMO adoption of a regulation, there is generally a 2-3 year phase-in-period before compliance with an adopted regulation is enforced.

The USCG expects the safety potions of the Polar Code and the related SOLAS amendments to beadopted by the IMO in November 2014.  The USCG expects the environmental chapters of the Polar Code and the associated amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) to be approved by the IMO in October 2014 and adopted in April 2015.

Regarding the Safety portions of the Polar Code, Lt. Gibbons also gave a brief overview of the chapters including:

  • Polar Water Operations
  • Ship Structure and Stability
  • Machinery and Fire Protection
  • Life Saving
  • Navigation and Communication
  • Crew Training

More information about Lt. Gibbons presentation at the Seattle Workshop is on the USCG Maritime Commons Blog.

USCG Seattle Polar Code Workshop Discussion

 At the Seattle Workshop the USCG specifically asked attendees to comment on a few particular subjects covered by the draft Polar Code listed below:

Ice Navigation Training Elements

1. What should the elements of Basic Ice Navigation Training include?

2. What should the elements of Advanced Ice Navigation Training include?

Risk Assessment under the Polar Code

1. What are vessel operators currently doing for Risk Assessment prior to polar operations?

2. Are there common methods used by industry currently to conduct Risk Assessments for vessel operations and planning based on onboard equipment and crew training?

Ships Making Single Arctic voyages

What is the expected time/cost associated with Polar Code Certification for Part I (Safety) & Part II (Environment) for ships making single Arctic voyages?


Author - Linda V. Priebe Linda Priebe is former Deputy General Counsel in the Executive Office of the President (ONDCP) and White House (Ethics Advisor) under three different presidents with over a dozen winning cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She is also formerly Member of the Utah Solid and Hazardous Waste Control Board and Assistant Utah Attorney General (Indian Affairs). Linda is currently Chair of Ethics, Compliance and Government Relations at Culhane Meadows PLLC in Washington, DC.

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