The present work analyzes cruise data from the Ice Watch database and applies the IMO's Polar Operational Limit Assessment Risk Indexing System (POLARIS) with ice observations. The results of this study showed that on several occasions, some vessels (e.g., RV Lance) operated under elevated operational risk in the Fram Strait and North of Svalbard during 2015. Furthermore, the results confirm the existence of speed dependency on the risk index outcome also for the vessels during research voyages, however there is an indication that this dependency could also be influenced by the vessel's activity.


An interest to the remote polar regions has always been high. Since the beginning of 2000s, the topic of vessels' safety in polar waters is becoming increasingly important. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) statement in 2020, the maritime activity in the polar areas is expected to grow in volume and diversity (IMO, 2020). Operations in such harsh, remote, and vulnerable polar areas are prone to several unique challenges. One of the challenges is the lack of adequate communications systems, charts, and other navigational aids. In addition, there are poor weather conditions and uncertain predictions of ice state along the route. It is costly and challenging to perform rescue or clean-up operations in these remote areas. The cold temperatures may reduce the effectiveness of several different components on the vessel. Additional loads on the hull, propulsion system, and appendages may be imposed due to interaction with sea ice. In this view, evaluating safety of operations in ice infested waters becomes very important.

This study is limited to vessels operations in ice covered waters. The literature review on this topic shows that there is a growing number of frameworks and models that address risks for vessels in ice. The most popular (or frequently used) approaches are Fault Tree Analysis (e.g., Abbassi et al., 2017; Kum and Sahin, 2015), Bayesian Networks (e.g., Montewka et al, 2019; Khan et al, 2020) and IMO's POLARIS (IMO, 2014). The risk is commonly expressed as a combination of the probability (or frequency) of occurrence of a defined event (e.g., besetting in ice, collision) and the magnitude of the consequences of the occurrence (e.g., fatalities, pollution). Most of the reviewed papers have either been focusing on the probability of occurrence of an event or address in detail the consequences of an event. Furthermore, majority of the earlier studies have focused on the safety of cargo vessels (tankers, container vessels, LNG carriers, etc.), including escort operations. For example, data analysis in Panchi et al. (2020) shows that for cargo vessels in the Kara Sea region, there is a general nonlinear increase in the mean speed of the vessels with the increase in the risk index outcome.

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