Nowadays, greenhouse effect has dramatically changed the climate globally. As a result, the maritime transport could reshape with respect to global liner shipping networks and bulk shipping. The changes for liner shipping could be a remodeling of existing routes or establish of new ones. Furthermore, for bulk and specialized shipping this could mean the opening of new courses for transport of crude materials, refined products and refrigerated cargos between ports in Northwest Europe, the Baltic and Artic to Northwest Asia. The rapid change in Artic Sea ice condition could create changes for more regular use of polar routes.
The transit along Russian Northern Sea Routes is more cost efficiently because of reduction in sailing distance about 6.5-14 day compared to the Suez Canal Route (Erikstad and Ehlers, 2012; Schøyen and Brathen, 2011). Although, the weather conditions, the technological needs and the cost factors limit the number of transits from NSR (Furuichi and Otsuka, 2013). It is known that, security and safety measures should be taken before start projects for the NSR. In other words, cargos that can cause pollution could be threat for the sensitive ecosystem of Northern Sea Routes (Byers, 2009).
In this essay will be analyzed critical information about the ships design and construction that is approved from IMO for the polar conditions. Additionally, Risk factors of passing through Artic areas will be referred in two different aspects, the economic risks and the safety risks.
The main risk factors involved
The main risk factors that involved are the hazards that vessels could face in polar conditions and the costs that introduced in this kind of voyages. Firstly, I would like to refer dangers that can face a vessel in polar conditions (IMO POLAR CODE ANNEX 10, 2014).
1. Ice can affect the hull of the vessel during the voyage and the machinery system. As a result, stability characteristic and navigations can change causing accident. Moreover, the working conditions on deck can be dangerous (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
2. Very low temperatures create inhuman working environment (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
3. Long periods of darkness can affect the navigation and the working conditions of the crew (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
4. High latitude, as it affects navigation systems, communication systems and the quality of ice imagery information (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
5. Lack of charts and hydrographic data make the passage extreme dangerous (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
6. Limitation of working experience of the crew increase the risk of errors (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
7. Rapidly changing and severe weather conditions, with the potential for escalation of incidents (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
8. Sensitivity of the ecosystem involves more careful actions (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
9. High latitude, it influences navigation systems, communication systems and the quality of ice imagery information (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
Secondly, the other sector that I will refer is the costs of using North Sea Routs.
• NSR fee
Passing the North Sea Routes ship owner must apply to the administration of NSR and if the vessel is Seaworth to pass then schedule the date, advise them about the route and give them the necessary icebreaker and pilotage support (Karl Magnus Eger ,2010). The amount of fee determined from the particulars e.g. (dwt, length, cargo) of the ship and the demand for sea transportation. Although, the Russia government has tariff policy (Isakov, 1999).
• Ice pilot fee
Lack of navigation knowledge at the artic areas and the way of maneuvering on the ice in order to avoid accidents make the pilot compulsory. (Ship & Ocean Foundation SOF, 2000).
• Maintenance cost
The powers that act on the hull and the strength that main engine needs to overcome the ice increase the frequency of maintenance and as a result the cost of performance (Cho et al., 2011).
• Insurance cost
Artic is a high-risk area that both H&M and P&I claim extra premium during the passage. This premium change according the particulars and the type of ship and the volume of the risk (UK P&I CLUB 09/09/2014).
• Fuel cost
Depending on thickness of ice and the weather conditions the fuel consumption defers (Falck, H., 2012). Fuel type directly effects the cost of fuel. Fuels with lower freezing points like NDF are better suited for winter conditions however they are more expensive than MDO or IFO (SARAH GRANDINETTI, 2017).
• Qualified Crew
As per Polar Code, vessels operating in water with any ice coverage require ice navigation training (IMO, Annex 10, 2014). Additional training costs will be included in order to prepare the existing crew or hiring new crew already qualified. (SARAH GRANDINETTI, 2017).
In order to comply with specific requirements of IMO polar code ice class vessels have specific construction and materials that will be used. Additionally, design and materials should be approved from the Administration of the organization or from another organization which offer equivalent level of safety base on the polar service temperature (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
The Polar Class (PC) notations and descriptions gives the options to shipowner, designers and administrations in selecting the proper type of class for their vessel. The below Polar Class table shows the categories of each class. (IACS Req. 2006/Rev.2 2016).
Table: INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CLASSIFICATION SOCIETIES, Requirements concerning POLAR CLASS, IACS Req. 2006/Rev.2 2016
Structural Requirements for Polar Class Ships
The hull areas of polar class ships are separated in four parts: Bow, Bow Intermedi-ate, Midbody and Stern. The Bow Intermediate, Midbody and Stern
parts are further divided in the vertical direction into the Bottom, Lower and Ice belt areas (IACS Req. 2006/Rev.3 2016). The bow is designed to resist in ice loads. Ship structures that are not directly subjected to ice loads should be approved from the classification societies (IACS Req. 2006/Rev.3 2016).
Method for determining equivalent ice class
The process for considering A and B categories of ships can be the same for both new or existing ships. The approval for the construction should be undertaken from the state of Flag or by recognized organization acting on its behalf under the provisions of the Code for Recognized Organizations (IMO, Annex 10, 2014). Various classification societies have improved ways to comply with the IACS Polar Class. The scope of IACS Polar Class is to ensure that, machinery installations are capable of delivering the required functionality necessary for safe operation of ships (IMO, Annex 10, 2014). If the vessel doesn’t full comply with the requirements, then the risk increased and the insurance premium. Moreover, vessel that would approve for PC 5 requirements but in limited areas is only PC 7 could still be considered as a category A, PC 5 vessel (IMO, Annex 10, 2014). Additionally, in all below cases the ships that complying with the ice class categories should have Polar Ship Certificate (IMO, Annex 10, 2014).
Figure: INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CLASSIFICATION SOCIETIES, Requirements concerning POLAR CLASS, IACS Req. 2006/Rev.3 2016
Generally, the ice class ships are structured from strength hull structural steels. The range of the structural steels varies 235 ; ReH; 390 N / mm^2 and Re?315 or 355 N / mm^2 according to the type of the ship and the thickness of the ice that it will be activated. (GERMANISHER LLOYD, 2016). Furthermore, aluminum alloys are suitable for seawater as specified in the GL Rules for Materials and they are used for the building of superstructures, deckhouses, hatchway covers. The conversion from steel to aluminum scantlings is to be carried out by using the material factor (GERMANISHER LLOYD, 2016).
In conclusion, the Shipping Routes will be very popular in the futures as the climate change melt the ice of North Pole. As mentioned before, vessels must have specific characteristics, materials and design for the ice conditions. All the above contain expensive and high standard ships, if we would like to build or buy them. Moreover, if we want to use the existing fleet and they are not ice class contractions we should do fleet conversion, with other words reconstruction of the existing fleet. The ship conversion is a very sophisticated, expensive and bureaucratic project according to my research. On the other hand, a new ice Polar fleet is very expensive and time-consuming project that involve risk as a business plan. Despite the above fact, it is my belief that using the Arctic Shipping Route safety risks overweight the cost risks. In long term period original ice class vessels will be more profitable than a conversion fleet that hide both safety and cost hazards. Finally, I would conclude that activating in high risk area both safety measures and cost estimates are never enough.
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