Commercial Vessel Compliance

12/6/2016: Polar Code – Entry into force

Written by Lt. Chris Rabalais

The new International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, commonly referred to as the Polar Code is enacted through IMO resolutions MSC.386(94) and MEPC.265(68). These resolutions amend the SOLAS and MARPOL conventions, adding provisions to address hazards and conditions unique to polar waters. Similarly, the STCW Convention was amended to include training requirements for personnel employed on ships operating in polar waters. Due to the varying completion dates of these amendments, the provisions of the Polar Code will be implemented on different dates. In this discussion, we hope to help clarify the various dates and deadlines associated with the implementation of the Polar Code.

Jan. 1, 2017, is the first significant date for vessels to which the Polar Code is applicable. The SOLAS-related provisions found in Part I-A of the Polar Code become effective for all newly constructed ships built on or after this date. Additionally, the MARPOL related provisions found in Part II-A of the Polar Code also becomes effective for all applicable vessels.

The next significant date related to implementation is a year later, Jan. 1, 2018. After this date, ships constructed before Jan. 1, 2017, will be required to comply with the SOLAS-related provisions contained in Part I-A by the next renewal or intermediate survey of their Ships Safety Construction Certificate or Passenger Ship Safety Certificate.

The last significant date relating to the implementation of the Polar Code is July 1, 2018. On this date, the STCW amendments for training of personnel employed on ships operating in polar waters will enter into force.

As the Polar Code’s entry into force dates approach, additional information will be posted on the Maritime Commons series on the Polar Code. Stay tuned for more information on applicability, code requirements and developing policies. Additionally, the Coast Guard will continue to publish any notable policy or regulatory updates in the federal register.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.