The aim of the new Polar Code and related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is to better prepare and protect ships and the people aboard them in the harsh environment of the waters surrounding the two poles. The expected enforcement date of the SOLAS amendments is 1 January 2017, and will apply to new ships constructed after that date. Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 will be required to meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1 January 2018.

The new code identifies polar water operating risks such as topside icing, crew experience and rapidly changing weather conditions, among others. The general challenge for emergency response in Arctic waters is that a small incident may easily develop into a major casualty for numerous reasons, including lack of emergency response infrastructure, equipment and facilities. Oil spill response and wreck removal are particularly challenging, dangerous and expensive in these conditions. The new Polar Code details a number of requirements for reducing emergency response time and scope.

Based on the new requirements and its experience responding in Arctic conditions Svitzer believes that the vessel in distress will need to overcome a longer period of time until the actual response arrives. The risk can be mitigated through remote assistance by salvage experts who know the characteristics of the vessel in need of help and through crews receiving enhanced training in the field of salvage. Svitzer can also conduct risk assessments for clients that will be entering Arctic waters. We can further provide the positioning of first-response salvage equipment onboard the vessel (Damage Control Kit) to ensure instant availability of equipment until additional salvage spread arrives. Svitzer will also train crews on how to use the Damage Control Kit. This mitigates delayed response to a maritime incident, potential escalation of a minor maritime incident into a major incident and threat to life and the environment. 

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