Oil and Gas industry operations are on the threshold of a significant increase in activity in arctic regions and a significant investment in constructing new Polar Class vessels will be required to safely meet the mission requirements for exploration drilling, ice management and resupply operations. There will be a corresponding requirement for both management and operational personnel with the appropriate level of training and experience in order to operate these new vessels.

The existing experience of arctic mariners is generally based on vessels transiting ice covered waters, typically transiting with icebreaker escort when operating in sea ice. As a consequence the arctic knowledge and experience rests mostly with the icebreaker crews providing the escort duties.

Arctic offshore operations require specialized skill sets different from those required to conduct arctic transit voyages and there are only a small cadre of mariners with this type of experience, many of whom are now nearing retirement age. Offshore operations in ice will require specialized skills in station-keeping, anchor handling and ice management with ancillary skills in ice monitoring and ice forecasting. Performing complex high arctic operations requires years of experience in combination with the foundation training requirements and there is a need for forward planning, in parallel with the commissioning of new arctic vessels, to ensure that this experience base is at the appropriate level of competence.

This paper addresses the training requirements for officers and crew to operate the expected new Polar Class offshore fleet for the offshore industry including DP operations, anchor handling and ice management duties. For future arctic operations, there is a potential need for industry to cooperate in developing crew training and operational proficiency on a sustained basis over a continuous time span rather than a project-by-project basis.

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