Bureau Veritas and Ponant advance polar safety research

The SAREX took place in September 2023 near Hershel Island, off the coast of Yukon, Canada. BV oversaw proceedings as US and Canadian search and rescue teams conducted the exercise aboard PONANT’s polar exploration cruise ship Le Commandant Charcot. The exercise followed a similar SAREX carried out in 2021, reputed to be the world’s first international SAREX scenario in a remote polar zone. 

Testing on-shore survival equipment in-situ

Participants explored the challenges, limitations and opportunities of an arctic massive rescue operation (AMRO) over the three phases of the SAREX: 

  • Phase 1: onboard the ship
  • Phase 2: onboard survival crafts
  • Phase 3: survival on-shore

Equipment evaluated during the SAREX included the “Ice Cube,” an innovative group survival kit (GSK). Participants used a reverse osmosis system within the GSK to produce the minimum required 2 L of drinking water per person per day. Not only was the system successful, but researchers were able to estimate its performance over the course of a longer simulation. 

After previous trials in 2021, the Ice Cube design had been revised to be compliant with ISO 24452. The Ice Cube performed well in the 2023 SAREX, and teams identified further opportunities to strengthen safety measures.

Procedures were also carried out for an inflatable polar shelter, whose purpose is to shield evacuated passengers from the cold for 24 hours. In the span of one hour, the internal temperature rose from 12°C to 22°C, without the need for heaters nor evidence of prohibitively high CO2 concentrations. 

Zeroing-in on safety

The resulting SAREX report will be submitted to the IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment to advise their interim guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters.

The data BV experts gathered during the SAREX offers valuable insight that will inform our efforts to produce safety regulations to the highest possible standard. We are proud to participate such operations, with strong collaboration from all stakeholders to shape a safer maritime industry. 

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