It’s been a full year since the IMO launched the Polar Code to enhance the protection of seafarers and the environment in Arctic and Antarctic regions. As shipowners and operators now scramble to ensure compliance, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment stands ready to throw them a lifeline. As the only global provider, the company offers a complete range of safety solutions for passenger and cargo vessels operating under the Polar Code.
A pedigree of Polar safety
“Like the Poles themselves, Polar safety is uncharted territory to many operators. Founded in Denmark and with the likes of Greenland, Iceland and the Baltics as our local markets, VIKING has gained decades of relevant experience. Working with navies, arctic shipping companies, expedition cruise operators, arctic offshore operators and SAR services, we know what it takes to specify efficient safety solutions for Polar applications,” says Benny Carlsen, VIKING SVP of Global Sales. He continues: “As a global leader in maritime safety, we’re dedicated to raising the transparency of the Code, making it as simple as possible to remain safe and compliant. And while we’re delighted to share our experience and best recommendations for product selection, we’re also keen to welcome anyone interested in Polar safety for dialogue and knowledge sharing.”
‘Polar Ready’ solutions
While the Polar Code relies on goal-based rather than prescriptive standards, and with specific solutions subject to approval by a relevant flag state or its Recognized Organization, compliance can be a complicated matter. “As the first and only global provider, VIKING offers a complete range of safety products and solutions for Polar applications and our global team of experts stand ready to assist in specifying the optimal solution for any operational environment”, Benny Carlsen states.
When it comes to specific safety solutions, VIKING was first to develop special Polar liferafts operational down to -50° C, along with Polar immersion suits tested down to -62° C. Both solutions are widely used by operators navigating cold and icy waters today. In addition, VIKING has developed special winterized marine and offshore evacuation systems for safe mass evacuation in cold climates, while an exhaustive portfolio of life-saving and firefighting appliances serves as a guarantee that VIKING can always put together a complete safety package, including personal and group survival kits, as specified in the Polar Code.
VIKING has actively contributed to, and participated in, both of the SARex expeditions in Svalbard, revealing potential gaps between existing safety equipment and the demands of the Polar Code. Here, VIKING equipment was put through extensive full-scale tests, building on our unique insights into Polar risks and how best to mitigate them through equipment performance.
Special considerations for passenger operators
Each year tens of thousands of tourists visit the areas covered by the Polar Code, and as these regions become ever more accessible, these figures are expected to keep growing. The advent of the Polar Code is a passenger safety milestone and while experienced operators may need to review, adapt and formalize current setups, newcomers face a more challenging journey towards compliance. Undoubtedly, Code requirements such as those for five-day survival, ice-proof solutions, let alone the availability of immersion suits on vessels carrying hundreds or thousands of people, remain steep challenges to be managed.
According to Benny Carlsen, VIKING is well positioned as a supplier of safety solutions to passenger vessels operating under the Polar Code. “Our liferafts, PPE and evacuation solutions are trusted by many cruise and ferry operators that navigate freezing waters daily,” he says. “The very latest addition to the VIKING range of Polar passenger ship safety solution is a series of dedicated Polar-spec marine evacuation systems based on the successful VIKING VEC PlusTMconcept, a perfect solution for IACS PC-6 Class (Polar Code Category B) vessels.”
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