Last September, Bureau Veritas (BV) participated in the world’s first international search and rescue exercise (SAREX) in a remote Polar area.
BV tested and certified maritime safety equipment on board the Polar exploration vessel ‘Le Commandant Charcot’, during a trial voyage to the North Pole organised by the vessel’s operator PONANT.
This search and rescue (SAR) exercise was performed to identify and address the challenges, constraints and opportunities involved in Arctic Massive Rescue Operations (AMRO) in remote Polar areas, in order to support safe navigation in Polar waters, BV said.
The exercise brought together teams from Russia, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, the US and Norway and also involved academic experts, the ship’s officers and crew, as well as remotely connected teams and head office management.
In the Polar area, the field exercise involved a group of 67 people, who set up a Polar survival camp to remain over a 24-hour period on the ice, among other tasks.
For BV, the exercise was an ideal opportunity to test all rescue and safety equipment, particularly the ‘Ice Cube’, the camp kit, group survival kit, floating polar shelters and survival suits.
The conclusions were very positive with all equipment tested exceeding safety criteria and standards and those required by the tourism industry (IAATO and AECO), the class society claimed.
SAREX results will now be shared with Polar environmental experts to support better understanding of the impact of extended periods of time spent on Polar ice.
It will also help the expedition cruise industry and rescue centres across the world to devise new safety strategies and improve their understanding of the potential impacts of a crisis situation in extreme Polar conditions.
Laurent LeBlanc, BV Marine and Offshore Vice President Technical Operations, explained: “ Being part of this important search and rescue exercise has enabled us to further understand what is at stake in Polar conditions.
“We are pleased to be able to support PONANT with our Polar expertise to help ensure safety in Polar operations. Given the extreme conditions of the Polar environment, safety is an absolute priority and can be a matter of life and death.
“BV continues to demonstrate its leadership on matters related to safety in Polar waters and the outcomes of the exercise have been extremely positive and this should give cruise passengers and governments increased confidence in the safety of Polar voyages,” he said.
Mathieu Petiteau, PONANT’s Newbuilding Director, added; “We are proud to partner with BV and a range of international partners on this milestone exercise, which once again raises the bar for maritime safety and standards in Polar tourism.
“Safety is paramount when navigating in the challenging waters surrounding the Poles and as we are dedicated to protect health and safety of our passengers and crew, as well as safeguarding the pristine Polar environments.
“In line with our commitment to sustainable tourism, our vessel ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ is powered by electricity and LNG and is fitted with facilities and equipment that support scientific research on the Polar eco-systems,” he concluded.