To comply with the Polar Code, a ship and her crew must be prepared for operations in polar waters. When in polar waters, the ship must be operated within the limitations specified on its Polar Ship Certificate & follow the operational requirements in the Code.


SOLAS ships operating in the polar waters will need a Polar Ship Certificate. This is a new statutory certificate given by the vessel’s flag administration or its authorized representatives.

The Polar Ship Certificate attests that the ship complies with the ship safety requirements in Part l-A of the Polar Code. To obtain a Polar Ship Certificate, the shipowner should:

  • Conduct an operational risk assessment of the ship & its predetermined operations in the polar waters;
  • Prepare a Polar Water Operational Manual(PWOM) determined to the ship, its arrangement & its intended operation in the polar waters;
  • Have the ship surveyed to verify its compliance with the applicable requirements of the Polar Code; &
  • Apply to its flag administration or recognized organization for the Polar Ship Certificate.


Part I-A Chapter 12 Manning and Training of the Polar Code requires a ship owner to ensure that deck officers on SOLAS ships operating in polar waters have completed special training and have the necessary competence to carry out their duties.

The new STCW amendments require masters, chief mates and officers in charge of a navigational watch to obtain a new certificate of proficiency. To obtain certificate in basic training for ships operating in polar waters officers on watch (OOW) should complete an approved basic training course which meet the standard of competence in the STCW Code, A-V/4, paragraph 1.

To obtain certificate in advanced training for ships operating in polar waters master and chief mate should meet the requirements for a certificate in basic training, complete approved seagoing service on board a ship operating in polar waters or equivalent seagoing service, in the deck department at the management level or while performing watchkeeping duties in an operational level, and have for a period of at least 2 months in total during the preceding 5 years completing an approved advanced training course which meet the standard of competence in the STCW Code, A-V/4, paragraph 2.

According to Polar code every crew member on board shall be made familiar with the procedures and equipment contained or referenced in the PWOM relevant to their assigned duties. Practically that means that everybody should be aware of personal and group survival kit contents and how to use it in emergency.


Onboard documentation regarding pollution prevention required to be modified to take operation in polar waters into account, including requirements from the MARPOL Annexes I, II, IV and V. An entry into the add on to the International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) Certificate is needed for the new Category A & B ship to certify that they comply with the extra structural requirements on tank protection in Part II-A, 1.2 of the Polar Code.

No structural modifications are needed for Category C ships or of existing Category A or B ships, therefore no entries in the IOPP Certificate are required.

No other MARPOL certificates are influenced by the Polar Code.


The Polar Code covers certain acts & prohibitions for ships while operating in polar waters. SOLAS ships must comply with all operational safety requirements in Part I-A of the Polar Code, including:

  • conducting a proper voyage plan;
  • Plying the vessel within the capabilities & limitations stated on its Polar Ship Certificate;
  • monitoring snow & ice accumulation on the ship & taking suitable measures to assure it does not exceed stability values;
  • keeping safety equipment, escape routes & survival craft clear of snow & ice accumulation;
  • instructing passengers in the use of survival equipment & the actions to take in an emergency;
  • training the crew in the use of personal & group survival equipment;
  • & training each crew member in the policies & equipment described in the Polar Water Operational Manual relevant to their assigned duties.


MARPOL ships must follow the operational environmental protection requirements in Part II-A of the Polar Code:

  • Any discharge/release of the oil, oily mixtures or noxious liquid substances in polar waters is prohibited.
  • Discharge of sewage & garbage in the polar waters is only permitted in line with the additional restrictions.
  • Operation in the polar waters in the relevant record books, manuals, placards, & emergency & management plans must be noted as required by the MARPOL.