The International Maritime Organisation has agreed the new regulations for seafarers navigating in the Arctic and Antarctic waters, aimed at enhancing safety in polar regions.

The new rules require masters and navigating officers to complete special training in order to navigate ships in ice, and for seafarers to have a greater understanding of the crew, ship and equipment limitations.

According to Danish Maritime Authority, the requirements cite two training levels for the crew for basic and more advanced training.

The new regulations also demand that masters and navigating officers of tankers and passenger ships engage in polar waters, to comply with further training requirements.

"The new rules require…seafarers to have a greater understanding of the crew, ship and equipment limitations."

IMO agreed to the new set of regulations at the second session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) and the training guidelines will be forwarded to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval in June.

The standards will be incorporated in the STCW Convention, the international set of rules regulating the overall education and training requirements for seafarers.

They are expected to come into force early in 2018.

This development follows the agreement on the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) and related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) in November 2014.

Image: IMO finalises new training requirements for seafarers in Arctic and Antarctic waters. Photo: courtesy of Danish Maritime Authority.