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Ships operating in the Arctic and Antarctic environments are exposed to a number of unique risks. Poor weather conditions and the relative lack of good charts, communication systems and other navigational aids pose challenges for mariners. The remoteness of the areas makes rescue or clean-up operations difficult and costly. Cold temperatures may reduce the effectiveness of numerous components of the ship, ranging from deck machinery and emergency equipment to sea suctions. When ice is present, it can impose additional loads on the hull, propulsion system and appendages.

The Guidelines for ships operating in polar waters aim at mitigating the additional risk imposed on shipping in the harsh environmental and climatic conditions that exist in polar waters.

This publication should be of interest to maritime administrations, ship manufacturers, shipping companies, cruise and tour operators, education institutes and others concerned with the safe operation of ships in polar waters.