This study investigates variability of ships’ operational limitations for ice conditions in view of national rules and international recommendations (the Rules for Navigation in the Water Area of the Northern Sea Route and the International Maritime Organization Recommendations). As an example, the Kara Sea region is considered for the period of 2017–2019. The ship data from two datasets were considered: (1) the Northern Sea Route Administration data and (2) the Automatic Identification System data. For each ship’s ice class, the ice information (concentration and type) was used to derive operational limitations based on the Polar Operational Limit Assessment Risk Indexing System (POLARIS), and the results were compared with the newly updated Northern Sea Route access criteria. Preliminary results indicate that national rules are generally stricter than international recommendations, however on some occasions, the national rules impose lesser restrictions on operations as ships with ice class PC7/Arc4 are allowed to operate when the international recommendations suggest an elevated probability of an accidental event.

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