Master Mariners of Canada is pleased to announce that new model training courses for ice navigation certification have been approved by International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s Maritime Safety Committee, and will become mandatory components of the Polar Code. The course development effort, under the sponsorship of Transport Canada, was undertaken by Captain Anthony Patterson, Captain Andrew McNeill, Captain Glenn Fiander and Captain Christopher Hearn – all members of Master Mariners of Canada.

“The Polar Code defines design and operational requirements, but there was not a united competency standard,” says Captain Christopher Hearn, Director of the Centre for Marine Simulation, Marine Institute of Memorial University in St. John’s, NL. “Any formalized training and competency requirements must now comply with the course framework we developed. This provides a level playing field for countries with no experience to get the training they need before they attempt a journey into those waters.”

Captain Anthony Patterson acted as the Secretary of the Course Development Working Group, an international committee of experts coordinated by Master Mariners of Canada. Together, eight countries (including Canada, Russia, China, Argentina, Norway, Finland, France and Sweden) and numerous non-governmental organizations worked through a rigorous collaboration and review process over several years to revise the existing training and create the new mandatory courses in ice navigation. Per the IMO (a specialized agency under the United Nations) the organization “wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the course developers [coordinated by the Company of Master Mariners of Canada] and the committee of experts for their assistance and co-operation.”

The Polar Code is mandatory legislation that applies to ships working in Arctic and Antarctic waters. It introduces a broad spectrum of binding regulations covering elements of ship design, construction, on-board equipment and machinery, operational procedures, training standards, and pollution prevention. The new Polar Code Model Courses (Basic Training Practical Elements and Advanced Training Practical Elements) are essential for all officers operating anywhere north or south of 60 degrees. Masters, chief mates and navigational officers must complete the curriculum depending on the type of ship and anticipated ice conditions. The courses are iterative and take one week each to complete.

“Canadians are experts in this type of work; we have always been active, vocal and forward thinking with regards to protecting Arctic waters, and the people and ships working there,” says Captain Christopher Hearn. “Master Mariners of Canada is an organization that regulatory bodies like Transport Canada can engage with to assist with regulation or compliance issues. We have the expertise, knowledge and proficiency in the maritime industry.”

“The National Council of the Master Mariners of Canada is very proud of the work the Newfoundland Division has put in to making the training program for the Polar Code become a reality. Without these training programs, there would be no possibility for masters and mates to gain experience for ship handling in Arctic or Antarctic conditions,” says Captain Patrick Gates, National President of Master Mariners of Canada. “With the rise of adventure cruises, initially in Antarctica and now in the Arctic, this training is a tremendous asset toward safety in polar waters.”