Risk warning over ships that transit the Arctic…

Arctic Shipping, Associations, Insurance and Reinsurance, Marine Insurance, Markets, News, Weather — By on September 23, 2014 at 10:22 PM
Stein Are Hansen

Stein Are Hansen

Risk warning over ships that transit the Arctic as IUMI backs Polar Code,  By James Brewer in Hong Kong

A critical scarcity of resources to carry out search and rescue, potential salvage operations and wreck removal in the event of marine disasters on the remote Northern Sea route was highlighted during the Hong Kong proceedings of the annual conference of the International Union of Marine Insurance.
Maritime activity in the Arctic is mounting as climate change appears to be making sea passage easier, and big terminals are being built in Russia ready for the export of millions of tons of oil and liquefied natural gas.
In 2013 there were 71 transit voyages in the region, a significant increase over previous years. For 2014, a total of 587 permits was issue, and 88 vessels are plying the route. The aviation sector is extremely active up above — there were more than 11, 000 flights over the Arctic in 2012.
Ole Wikborg

Ole Wikborg

There is said to be willingness among nations with interests in the Arctic to co-operate in safety endeavours, and IUMI president Ole Wikborg said: “We need to have a global effort to make sure we mitigate the risk as much as we can.”Earlier, Stein Are Hansen, head of department for loss prevention and emergency response at the Norwegian Hull Club,  and board member  of Norway based search and rescue research project SARiNOR gave an insight into the risks facing ships.

Mr Hansen emphasised the lack of resources to cope with search and rescue operations, and environmental cleanups.
He declared: “Humans make mistakes. Have we really thought about the risks in the Arctic? From the Clipper Adventurer to the Titanic, there have been huge accidents in the Arctic. You can prepare yourself to death but are we prepared for waking up to seeing oil on a polar bear on the front page of the New York Times?”
He went on: “We will soon be responsible for rescuing people up to the North Pole. We need more training and sophisticated equipment to help deal with the potential disasters. For example, fuel stations for helicopters.”Activity in the Arctic is growing quickly. Last year there were 71 transit voyages in the region, a significant increase over previous years. There were also over 11, 000 flights over the Arctic in 2012.IUMI has been closely involved with the International Maritime Organization in working on the Polar Code. The Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters near the South and North poles.
The Polar Code, which will become mandatory for SOLAS countries, will come up for discussion in November 2014 at the next meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee, and could come into force in 2017, although it will apply only to a small percntaqge of the world fleet.

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