The Ice Navigation and Seamanship Handbook.

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Published Date

July 2019

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The Ice Navigation and Seamanship Handbook.

(Excludes any applicable taxes)

This 360-page publication provides a detailed explanation of every aspect of seamanship and navigation in ice. It will allow seafarers to acquire the necessary knowledge and understanding of this challenging environment which, when combined with practical experience, will enable safe navigation in ice.

Topics covered include types of ice and where they may be encountered, preparing the ship and crew for ice conditions, ship handling and navigation in ice, the Polar Code and other regulations, working with icebreakers, and pollution response.

BIMCO members, please enter BIMCO as Promotional Code during checkout for 20% off


This edition of ‘The Ice Navigation and Seamanship Handbook’ supersedes ‘The Ice Navigation Manual’ published in 2010 by Witherby Publishing and the ‘BIMCO Ice Handbook’ published in 2005 by The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO).


The book identifies the world’s major ice regions, with maps illustrating ice routes and seasonal variations of ice thickness and extent. It describes the appearance and characteristics of the various types of ice and explains how shiphandling procedures may differ according to type.


A separate chapter sets out the applicable international agreements and regulations (with particular emphasis on the Polar Code), as well as regional and local legislation.


An explanation is provided of ice class ships and how they are categorised by Class and under the Polar Code. The book looks at different design, construction and operating considerations.


The book looks in detail at how to prepare a ship for ice conditions. It lists the key items to be considered and provides useful checklists for both the deck and engine departments.


A crucial aspect of navigation in ice is obtaining adequate ice information to support decision making throughout the voyage. A separate chapter looks at sources and methods of acquiring ice and weather information, according to the ship, its location and the technology available.


The book also looks at crew training and qualification, as required under the STCW Convention and Code. It discusses correct clothing, dangers of exposure and hazards to health.


The chapter on navigation in ice provides invaluable practical guidance on preparing and executing the passage plan. It discusses watchkeeping and bridge procedures, position fixing, use of radar and ice accretion. This is followed by a chapter on shiphandling in ice, with emphasis on approaching and entering the ice, manoeuvring, berthing and anchoring.


Advice is also provided on working with icebreakers and pollution response.


The book is illustrated throughout with colour photographs and diagrams.





1 Ice Types

1.1 Fresh Water Ice

1.2 Sea Ice

1.3 Glacial Ice

1.4 Fast Ice

1.5 Pack Ice

1.6 Ice Movement (Drift)

1.7 Ice Deterioration and Change


2 The Ice Regions

2.1 Regional Polar Ice Differences

2.2 Northern Ice

2.3 Southern Ice

2.4 Individual Ice Regions


3 Regulations

3.1 International Agreements and Regulations

3.2 The Polar Code

3.3 Regional and Local Regulations

3.4 Sovereignty


4 Ice Class Ships

4.1 Classification Standards

4.2 Ice Design Considerations

4.3 Class Notations for ‘Winterisation’ and De-Icing

4.4 Double-Acting Ships

4.5 Icebreaking Propulsion Plant

4.6 Mooring Equipment

4.7 Insurance

4.8 Icebreaker Construction

4.9 Oblique Icebreaker Design


5 Preparing a Ship for Ice

5.1 Ballast and Trim

5.2 Fresh Water Tanks and Fire Lines

5.3 Main Engine

5.4 Sea Inlets

5.5 Garbage and Waste

5.6 Searchlights

5.7 Deck Protection

5.8 Ice Accretion and Stability

5.9 De-Icing

5.10 Safety

5.11 Checklist for the Deck Department

5.12 Checklist for the Engine Department


6 Forecasting and Reporting Ice Conditions

6.1 International and SOLAS Requirements for Ice Reporting

6.2 Ice Forecasts and Ice Charts

6.3 The Egg Code

6.4 Colour Coding Ice Charts

6.5 Ice Symbols and Indications Associated with International Ice Charts

6.6 Iceberg Coding and Message Preparation

6.7 Ice Reporting and Forecast Systems in the Baltic Sea

6.8 Ice Reporting and Forecast Systems in the Arctic Region

6.9 Ice Reporting and Forecast Systems in the Antarctic Region

6.10 Use of Satellite Imagery for Onboard Navigation

6.11 Private Sources of Information/Satellite Data


7 Preparing the Crew for Ice

7.1 Training for Ice Conditions

7.2 Clothing

7.3 Accidents and Emergencies

7.4 General Crew Comfort

7.5 Wind Chill

7.6 Medical


8 Navigation in Ice

8.1 Passage Planning

8.2 Watchkeeping Practices

8.3 Evidence of Ice

8.4 Navigation in Pack Ice

8.5 Visibility and Heating

8.6 Position Fixing in Ice Conditions

8.7 Radar Use in Ice Conditions

8.8 Compasses


9 Shiphandling

9.1 Entering the Ice

9.2 Approaching the Ice Edge

9.3 Underway in Ice

9.4 Pinch Points

9.5 Beset in Ice

9.6 Anchoring in Ice

9.7 Inland Navigation: Canal and Lock Systems

9.8 Damage in Ice

9.9 Berthing in Ports with Ice


10 Ship Operations in Ice

10.1 Cargo Operations (Liquid/Gas)

10.2 Cargo Operations (Bulk/General)

10.3 Passenger Ships


11 Working with Icebreakers

11.1 Icebreaker Assistance for Beset Ships

11.2 Ice Convoys

11.3 Requirements for Escorted Ships

11.4 Towing in Ice

11.5 Nuclear-powered Icebreakers

11.6 The World Icebreaker and Icebreaking Supply Fleet


12 Pollution in Ice Covered Waters

12.1 Introduction and Overview

12.2 Incidents and Accidents in Ice Covered Waters

12.3 Spill Scenarios

12.4 Oil Fate and Behaviour

12.5 Detection and Spill Surveillance

12.6 Response Strategies - Recovery and Removal

12.7 International Agreements, Liabilities and Regulations

12.8 Regional Spill Response Resources

12.9 Response Planning Resources



This publication replaces the following withdrawn and out of date publications:

• The ‘BIMCO Ice Handbook’ published in 2005 by The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO).

• ‘The Ice Navigation Manual’ published in 2010 by Witherby Seamanship International Ltd.


Navigation in ice is one of the most challenging tasks a mariner may face. The navigator is concerned with the

physical dangers of the ice and the restrictions imposed on the ship, in terms of route, speed and endurance.

The need to protect those on board, whether from the risk of collision with an iceberg or more generally from

exposure to hazardous climatic conditions, must be ever present in the mind of the navigator.


The harsh realities of icy environments are equally challenging to the mariner. Keeping a proper lookout and

maintaining a safe route through different types of ice are difficult in areas such as the polar regions, where aids

to navigation are minimal and where electronic equipment is affected by the environment.


The changing nature of the environment, due to global warming and the subsequent melting of the icecaps, has

resulted in considerable growth in maritime traffic in the polar regions. New shipping routes have opened up and

there has been increased interest in the extraction of raw materials.


The Polar Code entered into force on 1st January 2017 in recognition of the need for regulatory protection of

these vulnerable sea areas. It is designed to protect the environment from shipping, and equally to protect those

on board ships that venture to the harsh polar regions.


The SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL conventions continue to directly apply to ships and navigators operating in ice,

setting out the minimum requirements for ship design, safety, manning and environmental protection.


As with all navigation, careful preparation significantly reduces the risk of an accident. In icy environments

consideration should be given to the nature of the ice, its dangers and the regions where it is encountered, ship

handling, passage planning, crew training, and preparing the ship for the expected weather. This manual will

allow seafarers to acquire the necessary knowledge and understanding which, when combined with practical

experience, will enable safe navigation in ice.

Witherbys would like to highlight the technical expertise and assistance provided by:


Ilkka Alhoke

Tommy Berg

Pierre Claveau

Paul Cordeiro

David Dickens

Stanislas Devorsine

David House

Edward Kemp

Indrek Kivi

Keld Quistgaard

Michael Lloyd

Patrick Toomey

and the following sources of information:

Aker Arctic Technology

Minister of Public Works and Government Services of Canada

Danish Meteorological Institute

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

BIMCO is the world’s largest direct-membership organisation for shipowners, charterers, shipbrokers and agents. In total, around 59% of the world’s cargo fleet is a BIMCO member, measured by dead weight tonnes (DWT).

BIMCO is a ‘not for profit’ organisation with NGO status, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, and with offices in Athens, Shanghai and Singapore.

The organisation has around 1,900 member companies across 120 countries – including large and small shipowners, shippers, oil majors, brokers, local port agents, law firms, maritime security companies and national shipowner’s associations among others. The core of the BIMCO membership is around 800 shipowner members who combined control around 83% of containership tonnage, 59% of dry bulk tonnage and 51% of tanker tonnage (all measured by DWT).

BIMCO’s goals are to secure a level playing field for the global shipping industry and to deliver practical tools, advice and guidance to its members across the main shipping sectors. BIMCO therefore works to promote and secure global standards and regulations for the maritime sector.

The organisation’s century long effort into creating standard contracts and clauses is a strong expression of that aim. BIMCO is considered the world leader in developing standard contracts and clauses in shipping.

Title: The Ice Navigation and Seamanship Handbook.
Number of Pages: 440
Product Code: WS1665K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-833-5 (9781856098335), ISBN 10: 1-85609-833-8 (1856098338)
Published Date: July 2019
Book Height: 305 mm
Book Width: 215 mm
Book Spine: 30 mm
Weight: 2.40 kg

Customer Reviews

The best explained handbook for ice navigation on the marked Review by Bjørn Kay Marstal Maritime Academy
Costumer-Review by Bjørn Kay; Lecturer of Marstal Maritime Academy; active ice navigator at sea and ice advisor, polar code 2018 instructor since 1995 with service in Greenland Waters, and a member of the International Ice Charting Workgroup.

The book is excellent to learn ice navigation and give very good explanation hoe to conduct a safe navigation under the Polar Code 2018 Areas as well in areas outside of the polar code e.g. Baltic Sea.
“The Ice Navigation and Seamanship Handbook” is build with the needs of good planning structure for ice navigation and the use of the required POLARIS which has to be calculated in the planning process in relation to the requirements given in the Polar Code 2018.
Useful explanation of the proper use of the vessels ice class for the charter agreement, planning and conduct of vessel in ice regime are well practical explained and can be used from a new educated ice navigator or be used as inspiration and reflection for an experienced ice navigator or ice advisor on the polar code advanced level. Especially the sketches and pictures showing the real world and the approach which need to be consider by the ice navigator.
One of the other good chapter in the book is the explicit practical explanation how you can plan work of the crew and protect them in the polar code area and in a ice regime which can be found outside of the area covered by the polar code.
The whole book needs to be learned and understand by the responsible inspector form a shipping company which is in charge of the overall ice in relation to the planning of voyages inside the polar code or outside the polar code areas.
Shipping companies will get important inspiration from chapter 12 and what needs to be done in the planning and conduct of a sea voyage or operation in a ice regime to understands the needs to protect the sensitive environment in polar code areas. And in special areas which is mentioned in MARPOL.
The book gives a basic ice navigator and a advanced ice navigator good inspiration and practical instruction what needs to be trained from basic to advanced level on board of a vessel in ice regimes to meet the requirements which are addressed by the Polar Code 2018 before the candidate is attending the advanced polar code training.
From my point of you and experienced as a member of the International Ice Charting Workgroup is chapter 6 “Forecasting and Reporting Ice Conditions” very well explained and is focusing of the mariners needs on the basic level in relation to the polar code.
For the advanced level the chapter 6.10 “Use of Satellite Imagery for Onboard Navigation” is well presented and gives the readers a possibility to understand modern technology and distribution of important ice information for the ice advisor and the advanced ice navigator or ice pilot. The sat imagery is the future of service which will meet the requirements for the ice services around the world mentioned in the polar code 2018.
I can recommend fully the book and use it for training at the Academy as well on board in active service on ships sailing in ice regimes!
(Posted on 04/06/2020)

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