IMO has developed the functionally based Polar Code, which entered into force 01.01.2017. The code requires marine operators to provide lifesaving equipment that ensures a minimum of 5 days survival time. This requirement puts additional strain on the existing life-saving appliances.

To identify the key elements for compliance of the IMO Polar Code, a full-scale exercise (SARex, (April 2016)) was initiated and organized by University of Stavanger, the Norwegian Coast Guard and GMC Maritime. The object of the SARex full scale exercise was to identify the gaps between the functionality provided by existing SOLAS approved safety equipment and the functionality required by the Polar Code. The exercise was conducted with the help of the vessel KV Svalbard (Norwegian Coast Guard), and participated by leading experts from industry, governmental organizations and academia.

The following topics were specifically addressed in the exercise that took place in the marginal ice zone of the coast of Svalbard late April 2016:

1. Functionality of survival craft and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) polar conditions.

2. Coast Guard’s search and rescue procedures, including handling of mass evacuations in Polar Regions.

3. Functionality of Personal/Group survival gear according to the requirements defined in the IMO Polar Code.

Survival for 5 days according to the requirements defined in the IMO Polar Code in a life raft represents a large challenge with regard to design of rescue craft, design of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), rations and on-board organization. As the IMO Polar Code is functional based, a holistic approach has to be utilized when assessing the survival chain. For an assessment of the survival chain to be conducted in a sustainable manner, key elements essential for survival in a life raft have to be identified and prioritized.

Designing a survival chain applicable to maritime industry also involves considering commercial, economic and operational restrictions.

The paper will elaborate on the key elements essential for a minimum of 5 days survival in a life raft based on the findings identified in the Phase 1, Functionality of survival craft and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) polar conditions, of the SARex exercise. The findings will be assessed and evaluated based on industry limitations.

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