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IMO adopts Polar Code, to enter into force at start of 2017

IMO adopts Polar Code, to enter into force at start of 2017
IMO has adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) as well as associated amendments to International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

Agreed at the 94th Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) which ran between 17 and 21 November, the SOLAS amendments are now on course to enter into force on 1 January 2017, and will apply to all vessels constructed after that date, as well as to existing vessels by either the first intermediate or renewal survey after 1 January 2018.

The Polar Code will be mandatory under both SOLAS and MARPOL following the draft amendments agreed at MEPC 67. IMO now expects the next MEPC, meeting in May 2015, to adopt the Code and associated MARPOL amendments.

The move meets the target set out by IMO secretary general Koji Sekimizu, who indicated in January that the body “should seriously aim at adoption of a mandatory polar code this year”.

In October, Russian transport minister Victor Olersky criticised countries attempting to introduce “unfeasible”, “rigid and prohibitory” Polar Code requirements which would hobble shipping’s adoption of the Northern Sea Route.