Enhancing Safe Ship Operations in Arctic

The European Union (EU)-funded 'Safe maritime operations under extreme conditions: the Arctic case' (SEDNA) project is developing ways to improve the design, operation, navigation and anti-icing features of ships traversing the harsh Arctic region.

SEDNA's innovations could help protect lives, safeguard the region's unique natural environment, and open more competitive routes for Europe's shippers, said a communication from EUROPA research information center.

As the ice in the Arctic region retreats due to global warming, new maritime routes are opening up to shipping traffic. However the Arctic's extremely harsh conditions and the severe safety challenges for navigation teams increase the risk of accidents, casualties and damage to the environment.

SEDNA is addressing these challenges by proposing and testing innovative technologies and methods to improve navigation and traffic management, operational safety, ship design, fuel stability, and anti-icing coatings.

For example, the project team is developing a human-centred approach to improve the ability of the ship's bridge crew, especially those with little or no Arctic experience, to navigate safely through the region. The approach incorporates such features as augmented reality technology and better information management.

These will be integrated with SEDNA's voyage planning system, which combines ice monitoring and weather forecasting using big data and data management techniques. The team aims to improve the crew's awareness of the Arctic's changing conditions as they navigate and help them make the correct decisions as they chart a safe, efficient course through the icy waters.

SEDNA is also developing anti-icing engineering solutions to reduce ice formation, which can have a huge impact on a ship's stability, safety equipment and on-board safety. The team will produce prototypes of anti-icing coatings and test them in the field.

The team will also deliver new design guidelines for the construction of ships suited for Arctic routes. These will also cover the adaption of existing vessels to better withstand Arctic conditions.

They will also conduct safety assessments of low-flash point fuels and conventional fossil fuels and their potential impacts on the Arctic environment, vessels and crews due to accidents.

The assessment includes the drafting of a European Committee for Standardization (CEN) Workshop Agreement with technical provisions, safety risks, and guidance for the bunkering of methanol when refuelling from a truck, shore facility or another ship during an Arctic voyage.

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