Navigation in ice is one of the most challenging tasks a mariner may face. The navigator is concerned with the physical dangers of the ice and the restrictions imposed on the ship, in terms of route, speed and endurance. The need to protect those on board, whether from the risk of collision with an iceberg or more generally from exposure to hazardous climatic conditions, must be ever present in the mind of the navigator.
The harsh realities of icy environments are equally challenging to the mariner. Keeping a proper lookout and maintaining a safe route through different types of ice are difficult in areas such as the polar regions, where aids to navigation are minimal and where electronic equipment is affected by the environment.
The changing nature of the environment, due to global warming and the subsequent melting of the icecaps, has resulted in considerable growth in maritime traffic in the polar regions. New shipping routes have opened up and there has been increased interest in the extraction of raw materials.
The Polar Code entered into force on 1st January 2017 in recognition of the need for regulatory protection of these vulnerable sea areas. It is designed to protect the environment from shipping, and equally to protect those on board ships that venture to the harsh polar regions.
The SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL conventions continue to directly apply to ships and navigators operating in ice, setting out the minimum requirements for ship design, safety, manning and environmental protection.
As with all navigation, careful preparation significantly reduces the risk of an accident. In icy environments consideration should be given to the nature of the ice, its dangers and the regions where it is encountered, ship handling, passage planning, crew training, and preparing the ship for the expected weather. This manual will allow seafarers to acquire the necessary knowledge and understanding which, when combined with practical experience, will enable safe navigation in ice.