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Generally, though, approximate answers are good enough for planning as long as they are coupled with appropriately cautious operation. Hazard identification and relevant areas to discuss during risk assessment could involve:

  • Environmental conditions, including understanding of the actual ice conditions
  • The right approach to ship equipment, including awareness of own ice class and "winterization" required
  • Experience, training and information to be provided to the ship's crew to match their actions to the requirements of the voyage
  • Operational issues, including voyage planning, navigation and emergency response

Hence the focus should not be only on the vessel itself and her cargo, but should also include training the crew in preparedness for the extreme conditions they may encounter. Gard's advice is that, if there is the slightest possibility that the vessel will be directed to a port which may be ice-bound upon arrival or during stay, a suitable ICE clause should be inserted in the charterparty and the bills of lading.

Featured resources, including ice maps and alerts (external content) 

  • Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO)
    Gard's advice is for our members to sign up BIMCO's member's service on ‘Ice' - https://www.bimco.org/Operations/Ice.aspx. On this site members can find a specific description of the ice conditions your ship may encounter around the world, regulations by ice authorities, recommendations for vessels operating in the winter season and the different Ice Clauses. The site could be accessed through www.bimco.org and is a collection of data from all major ice affected regions.

  • Baltic Sea Ice Service
    The purpose of Baltic Sea Services (BSIS) is to create a harmonised range of ice information products and services for the Baltic Sea and adjacent waters which are tailored to the needs of users and provide a better basis for decision making, thus contributing to the safety of navigation. The latest ice conditions are collected on a daily basis for Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russian Baltic ports and Sweden. For the current situation: http://www.bsis-ice.de/actualsituation.shtml

  • Japan Meteorological Agency
    Sea ice chart Far East - Okhotsk Sea, Sakhalin 

  • Polar view
    Polar view, the European Arctic Node, offers integrated monitoring and forecasting services in the Polar regions, as well as mid latitude areas, affected by ice and snow. The Polar view service includes enhanced sea ice information (charts and forecasts) as well as ice-edge and iceberg monitoring data. Areas Eastern Greenland, Svalbard, North and Baltic Sea and Barents Sea are included. http://polarview.met.no/

  • Swedish Ice Service
    The ice service at Swedish Meteorlological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) produce daily ice charts for the Baltic sea region and provide expertise to the ice breaking management at the Swedish Maritime Administration. Ice charts and reports are available free of charge for the Baltic region. http://www.smhi.se/en/services/professional-services/shipping/swedish-ice-service-1.8715 

  • The Northern Sea Route Administration
    The main target for NSRA is to ensure safe navigation and protection of marine environment from the pollution in the water area of the Northern sea route. Relevant administrative- and operational information, such as weather and ice conditions, for the Northern Sea Route is available for all users at the current website. http://www.nsra.ru/en/home.html

  • Kongsberg Satellite Services AS
    KSAT is a Norwegian commercial operator and provider of satellite ground station services and satellite based maritime monitoring services. KSAT provides near real-time access to the satellite images for users operating in the high North. This enables users to receive real time information on the prevailing sea conditions and use it for navigation. https://www.ksat.no/services/earth-observation-services/

Canadian Arctic:

  • Canadian Ice Service
    The Canadian Ice Service is the leading authority for information on ice in Canada's navigable waters. The Ice service provides the public with direct access to ice and iceberg information. The website contains a substantial amount of information on ice and iceberg conditions. Ice charts and ice bulletins can be downloaded from the website below. Area: Canadian waters, Eastern Arctic, Hudson Bay, Western Arctic among others). https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/ice-forecasts-observations/latest-conditions.html 

  • Transport Canada Centre
    Canadian regulations concerning ships operating in ice-covered waters. Includes:
    • Information about mandatory and recommended publications to be onboard during winter transit in Canadian waters
    • Pre-arrival information requested concerning type of sea water cooling system found aborad ship
    • Marine safety guide checklist for operation in ice infested waters.
    • Read more: http://www.gard.no/webdocs/Canadian_regulations_icecovered_waters.pdf

  • Canadian Coast Guard publication:
    "Ice Navigation in Canadian Waters"

    This document provides Masters and watchkeeping crew of vessels transiting Canadian ice-covered waters with the necessary information to obtain an understanding of the hazards, navigation techniques, and responses of the vessel. The manual has been modified to assist ships operating in ice in all Canadian waters, including the Arctic.


  • National Weather Service (NWS)
    NWS provides weather, hydrologic and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas. The Anchorage forecast office is responsible for the southern portion of the state from the Canadian border just north of Yakutat and all the way west to the end of the Aleutian chain. Graphic analyses of sea surface temperatures and sea ice as well as five day sea ice forecast can be viewed at https://www.weather.gov/afc/ice 

Loss prevention circulars on Ice Navigation

No. 02-06: Navigation through the entrances to the Baltic Sea (10.01.06)

No. 02-04: Winter season in northern Baltic Sea (14.01.04)

No. 09-03: Restrictions on ice navigation in the Gulf of Finland (12.12.2003)

No. 01-03: Severe ice conditions in the northern Baltic Sea (01.01.03)

No. 10-01: Operations in extremely cold climates (10.01.01) 

Other Gard material on Ice Navigation

Gard Insight 23 January 2014: Climate change creates a new trade route – and new risks (2014)

Gard Insight 09 December 2013: New Cefor trading areas clause on NMIP terms and conditions (2014)

Gard News 205: Operating in ice (2012)

Gard News 190: M/V NORDNORGE - Antarctic rescue of M/V EXPLORER (2008)

Gard News 189: Arctic Emergency Operation Project (2008)

Gard News 187: From a master's desk - Life in the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway (2007)

Gard News 173: Restrictions on ice navigation in the Gulf of Finland (2004)

Gard News 173: North bound through fog and ice (2004)

Gard News 171: The ship that came in from the cold (2003)

Gard New 170: Winter in the Baltic - Navigation in ice (2003)

Gard News 165: Operations in extremely cold climates (2002)IO

We hope that the collection of Gard loss prevention material available on this page will provide useful guidance on trading in ice in general.