The Ice Navigation Manual

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Published Date

June 2010

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The Ice Navigation Manual

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This manual, written in collaboration with experienced ice professionals, is essential

for merchant vessels operating in ice conditions. It covers topics such as ice types, ice

conditions, the main ice regions, ice class ships, preparations for a ship and crew, practical aspects of navigating in ice and shiphandling.

View our video on Ice Navigation on YouTube !


This book balances the considerations for the different ice types that ships' officers may encounter, whether first year or multi-year ice, and the different ice types in the arctic, Great Lakes or the Baltic. A good example of the outcome of a misinterpretation of the ice type a vessel is presented with was given to the whole world in 2007, when the ' MS Explorer ' sank in the Antarctic Ocean. While, as in many incidents, there were numerous factors that uniquely came together, in this case the Ship’s Master was very experienced in first year Baltic Ice conditions but had no experience of multi-year ice . This meant that he failed to correctly identify the ice type as compacted multi year ice and entered it as if it were the first year ice conditions he was familiar with, with disasterous outcome.

Covering Ice Types, Ice Conditions, The Main Ice Regions, Ice Class Ships, Preparations for a Ship and the Crew for Ice the book then moves to the practical aspects of Navigating in Ice, Shiphandling, Working with Icebreakers and Oil Pollution in Ice Covered Waters, this creates a manual that will remain as valid and up to date in 2020 as it is in 2010, although by then there may well need to be a few more case studies about the actions and outcomes of the unwary.


Captain Patrick R M Toomey - Canadian Coast Guard (Rtd)

Captain Toomey spent 27 years with the Canadian Coast Guard, in that time completing 21 navigation seasons in the Canadian Arctic on Canadian icebreakers, 18 of these seasons as Icebreaker Captain. During that period in command he completed his first four transits of the Northwest Passage, the first of these transits being only the 17th transit ever recorded , which is astounding when you consider that the first transits were made in the 15th Century and, even today, we are only recording the 200th.

Since taking early retirement from the Canadian Coast Guard in 1991, Patrick has consulted as an Ice Navigation Specialist. During that time he has made a number of appearances in court as an expert witness and assessor for litigation involving ice navigation, twelve seasons as Ice Pilot/Lecturer aboard 6 Russian icebreakers in the Canadian and Russian Arctic, including 6 voyages to the North Pole and 7 further transits of the Northwest Passage plus 1 transit of the Siberian Northern Sea Route.

February 2009 saw him complete his 26th voyage into Antarctic waters. Of his recent Antarctic sojourns, one has been a circumnavigation on a Russian icebreaker of the Antarctic continent and 16 have been as Ice Pilot on the Holland America Line vessels ‘Rotterdam’, ‘Amsterdam’ and ‘Prinsendam’. Other consultant work he has undertaken, has included training in ice navigation for the Canadian Coast Guard, the Chilean Navy and in the private sector. His counsel on matters concerning ice navigation is sought by the industry’s press on both sides of the Atlantic and he has contributed to the development of international regulations concerning ice navigation.

Captain Michael Lloyd FNI

As Master, Captain Lloyd commanded a wide variety of ships and trades ranging from vessels of 300dwt to 300,000dwt and holds Pilotage exemption certificates for a number of ports around the world. For 10 years he represented Shipmasters on the General Council of Nautilus, is a Member of the Court of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, a Freeman of the city of London, a Fellow of the Nautical Institute and a Younger Brother of Trinity House.

During his career, he was Chief Officer and in Command of ships in ice in the Baltic, the Arctic, the Antarctic, Northern Alaska, Northern Canada and Russian waters on a variety of Ice Class vessels, ranging from 80,000dwt bulk carriers to a 3000dwt Russian Deepsea Ice Breaker and Supply vessel.

David J. House - Author

David House has authored many maritime books in recent years and gained his ice experience sailing in winter from the North Atlantic via the Bell Isle Strait and the frozen waters of the St Lawrence River, towards the ports of Quebec, Montreal and Toronto. This is combined with experience in the Baltic Sea that enhanced his ice experience and the demanding task of navigating from the Kiel Canal in pack ice in the depths of winter with few navigation marks which proved a most demanding task.

David continues to teach all aspects of seamanship and navigation including Ice Operations.

David Dickins - Advisor on oil pollution in ice

David Dickins, P.Eng. has a broad range of Arctic offshore experience gained through 38 years of projects focusing on offshore oil exploration and development and the marine transportation of oil in Arctic waters. Since starting his own engineering consulting firm in 1978, David has developed a worldwide reputation as an expert in Arctic environmental studies, remote sensing, shipping routes in ice, oil spills, sea ice conditions and air cushion vehicles. His background includes the management of hundreds of research projects for government and industry clients and authoring or contributing to over 70 conference papers and journal articles. David played a key role in organizing and chairing six international conferences on Arctic environmental and transportation issues. Since 1974, David has played a significant role in 10 experimental oil spill projects in ice and cold waters off the Canadian Arctic and East Coasts and most recently in the Norwegian Barents Sea. He has worked and lived on the ice throughout the Canadian and US Arctic, from the Beaufort Sea to the Canadian Arctic Islands.

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 Reports and Forecasts

1.7 Ice Movement

1.8 Ice Deterioration

2 Reporting Ice Conditions
2.1 The Egg Code

2.2 Colour Coding Ice Charts

2.3 Ice Symbols and Indications associated with International Ice Charts (Nomenclature)

2.4 Iceberg Coding and Message Preparation

3 The Ice Regions

3.1 Northern Ice

3.2 Southern Ice

3.3 Regional Arctic Ice Differences

3.4 Antarctica

3.5 Sovereignty

4 Ice Class Ships

4.1 Classification Standards

4.2 Ice Design Considerations

4.3 Cost of Ice Strengthening

4.4 ‘Winterisation’ and De-Icing

4.5 Double Acting Vessels

4.6 Ice Breaking Propulsion Plant

4.7 Mooring Equipment

4.8 Insurance

4.9 The Icebreakers

4.10 Emergency Response Vessels (ERVs).

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 Fuel, Water and Provisions

5.6 Searchlights

5.7 Deck Protection

5.8 Ice Accretion and Stability

5.9 Considerations in Ice for Specific Ship Types

5.10 Cruise Ships in Ice Covered Waters

5.11 De-Icing

5.12 Safety

5.13 Fire fighting

5.14 Checklist for Deck Department

5.15 Checklist for the Engine Department

6 Preparing the Crew for Ice

6.1 Training for Ice Conditions

6.2 Clothing

6.3 Accident and Emergencies

6.4 General Crew Comfort

6.5 Medical

7 Navigation in Ice

7.1 Evidence of Ice

7.2 Passage Planning

7.3 Watch Keeping Practices when Approaching Ice Regions

7.4 Operation in Pack Ice

7.5 Visibility

7.6 Position Fixing in Ice Conditions

7.7 Visual Detection of Ice

7.8 Radar Use in Ice Conditions

7.9 Additional Communications Inside Ice Regions

7.10 Ice Information Service

7.11 North Atlantic Ice Patrol

7.12 Local Auxiliary Ice Reports

7.13 Aerial Ice Observations

7.14 Satellite Services

8 Shiphandling

8.1 Entering the Ice

8.2 Approaching the Ice Edge

8.3 Underway in Ice

8.4 Natural Aids to Navigation

8.5 An Example of Navigating through Ice

8.6 Beset in Ice

8.7 Grounding and Stranding in Ice

8.8 Anchoring in Ice

8.9 Damage Control

8.10 Inland Navigation: Canal and Lock Systems

9 Working with Icebreakers

9.1 Icebreaker Assistance for Beset Ships

9.2 Ice Convoys

9.3 Requirements for Escorted Ships

9.4 Towing in Ice

9.5 Damage in Ice

9.6 Berth Problems

10 Oil Pollution in Ice Covered Waters

10.1 Introduction and Overview

10.2 Incidents and Accidents in Ice-covered Waters

10.3 Spill Scenarios

10.4 Oil in Ice Behaviour

10.5 Detection and Spill Surveillance

10.6 Oil Recovery and Removal

10.8 Some Useful Resources

10.9 Selected References: Arctic Oil Spill

During his sea-going career, David House spent four years engaged on the Irish Sea/Scottish Ferry routes, with Roll-on Roll-off freight and passenger vehicle operations. He continues his marine research and writing practice while lecturing in ‘Maritime Subjects’ in the United Kingdom.

He has published work across a spectrum of topics, including: General Seamanship, Navigation, Anchor Work, Marine Safety & Survival and Helicopter Operations. His works continue to be widely read in most maritime quarters around the world both ashore and afloat by practicing mariners and marine students.

Having served on a variety of vessels including: Dry and Bulk Cargo Ships, Passenger Liners, Containers, Reefer, and Ferries. This background with such diverse sea-going experience, together with over twenty years within Marine Education, provides an ideal source for his past and future works.

Title: The Ice Navigation Manual
Number of Volumes: 1
Edition: First
Number of Pages: 396
Product Code: WS1061K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-905331-59-8 (9781905331598), ISBN 10: 1-905331-59-2 (1905331592)
Published Date: June 2010
Binding Format: Hardback
Book Height: 287 mm
Book Width: 165 mm
Book Spine: 30 mm
Weight: 1.60 kg
Author: David J House

Customer Reviews

Manual offers clear track through ice Review by International Tug & Salvage January/February 2011
Ice is an obstacle to any ship, even an icebreaker, and the inexperienced Navigation Officer is advised to develop a healthy respect for the latent power and strength of ice in all its forms.

However, it is quite possible, and continues to be proven so, for well-found ships in capable hands to navigate successfully, through ice-covered waters’ – Canadian Coast Guard, Ice Navigation in Canadian Waters.

If the ‘capable hands’ referred to in the preface are holding a copy of The Ice Navigation Manual, it would seem they are well-placed to tackle any challenges encountered while navigating in the hostile world of ice.

Compiled by four men with very extensive experience of working in naval ice conditions, the book is an immaculately laid out guide covering everything one might need to know on working sub-zero temperatures at sea, including a specific section on towing in ice, plus a lengthy chapter on the complications inherent in oil spill response in ice-covered waters.

But there are other, more human considerations, too. In the foreword, Mikko Niini, president, Aker Arctic Technology Inc, says: “Meeting harsh weather, storms with high waves, or fog, is something all seafarers are more readily prepared for. In some areas, however, there is a risk of suddenly meeting sub-zero temperatures, freezing sea spray and ice-covered seas. For most seafarers this is an unparalleled experience, often undergone during the increased hours of darkness in Northern Latitudes, and frequently causing a feeling of fear.”

Increase in world trade, particularly the opening of new oil and gas terminals in increasingly harsh and remote areas, has led to more sophisticated ships, built to high ice class standards, and with it a large demand for seafarers with knowledge and experience in ice navigation and operations in cold environments: a specialist skill set. Niini adds: “The solution to training new crews is through a variety of ice navigation courses offered by the navigation institutes, but basic learning for the seafarer and passing on of knowledge skill still takes place through textbooks.”

The Ice Navigation Manual combines both the theoretical and practical aspects of ice navigation, providing basic knowledge of ice conditions in various areas of the globe. It describes ice-related risks, the information and reporting systems available and does as much as any book could possibly do to prepare the seafarer for the conditions he may experience, and the individual preparations he must make before embracing those conditions onboard specific ship types. That said, it is, of course, no replacement for sound training and experience, and should be complemented by simulator training or shipboard service with crew who are experienced in managing and handling ships in ice.

Just some of the many absorbing topics covered in the book include: a comparison of the many different types of ice structure: a comprehensive description of the Egg Code (so called because of the oval shape of the coded diagram) – an international standard for the reporting of ice conditions; the major differences between Arctic and Antarctic ice; classification standards for Ice Class ships; the many considerations that must be taken into account when preparing a ship for ice; the specialised skills necessary to prepare crew for navigation and survival in ice conditions and the pime consideration for the remoteness of polar regions, whose desolation offers no supporting infrastructure.

The polar-bear post-it notes scattered throughout the book lend a curious informality to an otherwise very serious subject but, nonetheless draw attention to some very salient facts.

Clear photographs and diagrams accompany the text illustrating every aspect covered in the book and at the same time capturing the breath-taking beauty of a phenomena which by its very nature commands respect.

Mikko Niini concludes that “this book should be onboard every vessel or on the bookshelf of any seafarer that expects to encounter ice waters.”

Were it not for the price, one might also suggest it would sit well on any non-seafarer’s bookshelf as a fascinating and informative read. (Posted on 03/03/2011)
The Ice Navigation Manual Review by Review – Lloyds List
The ice navigator’s cold calculation
Ship-handling in ice requires experience, judgement and constant vigilance

ICE navigation is not for the uninitiated, who can get themselves into enormous trouble very quickly by not understanding the basic principles. Serious damage can be done to a ship by seemingly inoffensive ice floes drifting ahead of the bow, writes Patrick Toomey.
To have any success, the navigator must first recognise the types of ice confronting the ship, and the capacity of that ship to withstand impacts with such ice.
Ship-handling in ice can, at best, result in nothing more than scratched paintwork from new ice, to the worst case of serious hull puncture from thick first year ice, or from old ice — by definition more than two years old — and glacial ice fragments, which are even older.
The greatest danger to a ship occurs when entering an ice field for the first time from open water, when a misjudgement of the safe speed, combined with a misinterpretation of the types of ice involved in an unknown ice field, can bring the voyage to a disastrous end.
The basic rule of thumb is to reduce speed while still in open water, to arrive at the ice-edge with barely steerage way, and then to gradually increase speed until it is determined that any further increase would result in damage to the hull or propulsion system.
If it is true that bush pilots fly “by the seat of their pants”, then ice navigators sail “by the soles of their feet” as they experience the movements and reactions of their vessels to the ice, sensing the vibrations and the impacts which alert them to whether or not the ship can stand the punishment.
When under icebreaker escort, the ice navigator has a tendency to relax, feeling that the icebreaker will take care of everything, but this is in reality the time for extra vigilance. Not only can the ship still be damaged by ice, but also collision between vessels has been added to the equation, with plenty of close-quarters manoeuvring involved and some very risky procedures routinely utilised.
Working a ship in a convoy under escort just multiplies the collision danger from both ahead and astern. Ice simulator training can be a good introduction to the perils of ice navigation, but there is nothing like experience in working a ship through even low concentrations of ice to make the student aware of the randomness of sea ice, and the fact that every ice-field is unique.
No assumptions are possible until each ice-field is entered and the ice within it identified. The ice navigator must view the process of making progress as similar to a game of chess; not only the next safe move must be calculated, but the two subsequent moves after that. Quite often the most obvious first move can lead a ship into greater difficulty further on. Maybe half a mile, maybe five miles down the track will be worse ice conditions, a navigational hazard or some other obstacle which must be considered in advance.
The more opportunity an ice navigator has to actually work a ship in ice, the more will be learned from the successes and mistakes made along the way. Every voyage in ice is a learning experience.
The biggest challenge to operators of ice-class tonnage is to understand that ice navigation is unpredictable, and to allow sufficient time for the ice navigator to stay within safe limits.
Which is better: to lose the ship through impatience with ice delays, or to stop the ship in the ice, even for days, until the voyage can continue without risk of damage or loss?
PATRICK Toomey, pictured, is an ex-captain in the Canadian Coast Guard turned ice navigator, skippering its icebreakers. He also acts as ice navigator in the Antarctic for Holland America Line on its cruiseship Rotterdam.
He has traversed the Northern route over Russia many times, transited the Northwest Passage towing an oil rig and has been to the North Pole by Russian icebreaker five times.
He recently had an Antarctic strait named after him in recognition of his services to safe Antarctic navigation and the education of ice navigators.
(Posted on 13/01/2011)
The Ice Navigation Manual Review by Fairplay Review
Ice navigation at your fingertips As global warming becomes an increasing concern, books on ice safety management are a welcome addition to the market. Witherby Seamanship’s latest book, The Ice Navigation Manual, is a 409-page handbook that aims to balance the considerations for different ice types that ships’ officers may encounter – whether first- year or multi-year ice, and the different ice types in the Arctic, Great Lakes or the Baltic.
The layout is easy on the eye, with 10 comprehensive sections and breathtaking photos throughout. A glossary, bibliography and detailed index appear at the back.
The book explains that ice is classified in two ways – lake (or fresh water) ice and sea ice. Both types can appear as first-year ice, which can exceed 2m in thickness, which can be dangerous to shipping. Older, multi-year ice will be at least 3m thick and can be recognised by its blue-green colour.
“It is extremely hazardous for shipping, even icebreakers, and any attempt to navigate in such conditions must be considered well before approach,” the book explains. As well as practical information, the book is full of curious facts: we are told that some icebergs appear green because of a mixture of nitrogen contaminants, but will often appear blue and sparkle in sunlight and “can also appear black at night, or glow in ambient starlight.”
The second chapter explains how to report ice conditions and would be useful for any captain or chief officer. Chapter three explores the ice regions with detailed maps and explanations on the regional differences between Arctic and Antarctic ice. Another section focuses on ice-class ships and Chapter five is dedicated to preparing a ship for ice navigation. This extensive section covers different ship types, as well as engines, steering gear, navigation equipment, communications and ice strengthening provisions, as well as ballast and trim preparation advice. “To allow for expansion, do not fill a ballast tank more than 90%,” the book warns. There are also ice navigation considerations for specific ship types. The final sections cover the pertinent subjects of preparing a crew for ice, working with icebreakers, and a final, robust 50-page section on oil pollution in ice-covered waters.
Commentators from the industry have already welcomed the book, and offered their insights into the value of the manual, including Mikko Niini, president of Aker Arctic Technology.
In the foreword, Niini comments: “This book should be onboard every vessel or on the bookshelf of any seafarer who expects to encounter icy waters. It provides a good and necessary basic understanding of operations in ice, which can then be complemented by simulator training or shipboard service, with crew who are experienced in managing and handling ships in ice.”
Miriam Fahey
The Ice Navigation Manual, by Lloyd, Toomey & Dickins, is published by Witherby Seamanship International
(Posted on 07/10/2010)

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