Previous Page | Next Page

1.1 Purpose

The User Assistance Package presents all the important components of the Arctic Ice Regime Shipping System for Canadian Arctic waters, and explains how the system can be used by mariners to increase safety and efficiency. It does this by:

  1. providing a video that introduces the Ice Regime System, and some very basic ice recognition skills,
  2. offering an Ice Regime software program that lets the operator calculate the ship’s Ice Numeral for each ice regime, and automatically creates both the Ice Regime Routing Message and the After Action Report to make the system as easy as possible to use, (The diskettes are at the back, and some notes are found on page 40)
  3. linking the Arctic Ice Regime Shipping System ( AIRSS ) Standards and the applicable regulations for navigation Officers and Ice Navigators in understandable terminology and,
  4. identifying reference material that will enable Navigation Officers to access a variety of information products linked to the Ice Regime System concept.

Reading and following this publication is not a substitute for training as an Ice Navigator or Master. However, it is intended to provide useful reminders to experienced operators, and guidance to others on how to prepare for Arctic voyages where ice will be encountered.

1.2 Applied Principles  

  • The Arctic Ice Regime Shipping System is intended to provide greater flexibility for the operation of vessels in the Arctic, by permitting ships to navigate outside of the current Zone / Date System when ice conditions are suitable. It is based upon a simple calculation which indicates whether or not a given set of ice conditions can be expected to be safe for a particular vessel.
  • A wide range of ice navigation parameters including: visibility, vessel speed, manoeuvrability, the availability of an icebreaker escort and the knowledge and experience of the crew must be considered in applying the Ice Regime System.
  • The Master or Ice Navigator of an Arctic-going vessel will have primary responsibility for applying the Ice Regime System.
  • Pollution Prevention Officers retain their power to direct any vessel clear of areas in which there is deemed to be a significant risk of structural damage leading to pollution. Ice regime information will be a useful tool in making their assessments.

1.3 Information Sources

The Arctic Shipping Pollution Prevention Regulations ( ASPPR ) have been revised to allow operators increased flexibility and the ability to improve their efficiency. An aspect of this process is an increased emphasis on the responsibility of the mariner to ensure the safety of the ship. To help mariners understand how to operate safely in the unique Arctic environment, Transport Canada is developing a training course and other aids which supplement existing material. This publication, the video and the software form the User Assistance Package, which is an important information source. Additional documentation has been listed in Section 8.2.

1.4 The Arctic Shipping Pollution Prevention Regulations ( ASPPR )

Navigation in waters under Canadian jurisdiction north of 60° North Latitude is governed by the Arctic Shipping Pollution Prevention Regulations ( ASPPR ), made under the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act ( AWPPA ). The regulations include requirements for hull construction, equipment, crew training and qualifications, and operating procedures. Complete copies of the Regulations, and of the Act, are available from Canadian Government Publishing for a nominal fee (see Section 8.2) or through Transport Canada's Home Page at:

The regulations were first promulgated in 1972, and experience over their first 20 years of use has led to substantial revisions in many areas. The process itself has been driven a desire to operate ships with greater flexibility than sometimes allowed by the rigid, Zone / Date System. Transport Canada has responded by making the regulatory changes apply at first to only outside of the Zone / Date System. This publication has been developed in part to describe and explain the system and to highlight some of the changes.

A major change is the move from controlling access to different geographic areas of the Arctic on the basis of calendar dates (the Zone / Date System), to controlling access on the basis of actual ice conditions, and how these compare to the structural strength of the ship (the Ice Regime System). This is explained in detail in Section 2; while the structural classifications used in the system are outlined on page 6.

1.5 The Master Maintains Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the Master to ensure the safety of the vessel. This includes avoiding areas with ice regimes beyond the ship's capabilities, and operating at speeds that could cause unsafe collisions with concentrations of dangerous ice. Utilizing the Ice Regime System provides a useful framework for operational decisions.

"There is nothing in the regulations which takes precedence over, or otherwise detracts from the Master's ultimate responsibility for the ship's safety." -V.M. Santos-Pedro, CMAC Meeting, April 96, Montréal

Previous Page | Next Page