Simwave, a leading independent European maritime simulator centre, and EYOS Expeditions, the superyacht expedition specialist, have partnered to create a new Polar Code and Expedition Operations course that addresses the urgent need for polar-experienced bridge officers.

“We are seeing unprecedented growth in the expedition yacht sector, combined with a desire for vessels to visit remote and harsh polar waters. Our partnership with Simwave provides an opportunity for superyacht officers to gain the skills and qualifications they need to safely and responsibly explore these regions,” comments Ben Lyons, CEO of EYOS Expeditions. "As part of the simulator time, students navigate Damen Yachting’s 77-meter SeaXplorer, the first of which is due for delivery this year. EYOS helped design the SeaXplorer to be the ultimate expedition yacht; we couldn’t think of a better vessel for students to operate in these virtual  conditions.”

The curriculum satisfies ice navigation training for nautical officers wishing to meet the requirements of the IMO’s International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code – Basic & Advanced), which came into force in 2017. The Polar Code is mandatory under both the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operations, training, search & rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the waters surrounding the two poles.

Participants will be equipped with the skills sets that are required under the Basic & Advanced Polar Code training, including proficiency and competence in safely planning, navigating and monitoring, international & local regulations, covering the STWC code and IMO model courses. The course will take place at Simwave’s facilities outside Rotterdam.

“At Simwave we are at the forefront of improving safety at sea. With the increase in expedition travel over the last decade, we have been focusing our attention on the polar regions,” comments Marcel Kind, CEO & Founder of Simwave. “To protect the environment, the vessel and its crew, we need to raise the bar and create best-practice guidelines. Customized training is an essential part in this and together with EYOS we were able to create a new standard in polar water operations.”

“We set out to create something different with this course. We didn’t want to just have a ‘tick the box’ exercise with scenarios that expedition ship officers would never experience or learn anything from. Throughout, we’ve put an emphasis on practical topics and realistic simulator learning combined with actual expedition operations,” continues Lyons.

As an example, Simwave’s team modelled actual passages and landscapes that expedition ship officers are certain to navigate, including Antarctica’s famous Lemaire Channel, Paradise Bay, Port Lockroy and Palmer Station, along with fjords in Svalbard and the Canadian Arctic, including Bellot Strait. This is one of the first times Antarctica has been successfully developed in a simulator exercise. By combining this with EYOS’ insight on expedition operations, a unique concept has been developed that will allow Simwave to define a new set of standards.

While receiving Basic and Advanced Ice Navigation training through a combination of presentations, tabletop exercises and in-depth scenarios utilising Simwave’s state-of-the-art 360o bridge simulator, with floor projection and docking stations, participants will simulate conduct operations with small boats (Zodiacs & tenders), control their vessel near sensitive wildlife (polar bears and whales) in line with IAATO and AECO guidelines, interact with an Expedition Leader, and conduct emergency scenarios with a range of authentic weather conditions.

Custom models for specific ships can be built upon request and used in the simulator to give officers the most realistic training possible on their own ships. Companies can also choose from a wide variety of other models including conventional to azimuth propulsion, allowing officers the opportunity to practice techniques on a wide range of platforms.

"We can offer any polar-bound superyacht a full turn-key solution from their initial inquiry all the way through the actual expedition and onboard guiding. From preparing a yacht's Polar Water Operations Manual, to conducting the Ice Navigation/Polar Code training, through securing the permits and supplying guides and ice pilots, we can offer the most consistent and holistic preparation possible for a superyacht. In some cases, the yacht will even be able to have the same guide or ice pilot they will work with in Antarctica or the Arctic as one of the instructors in the Simwave course, ensuring the team is familiar and cohesive from day one," explains Lyons.

"Given the surging interest over the last few years of yachts to visit the polar regions, it is imperative that training and precautions be undertaken at the highest level. This unique course with SIMWAVE will prepare superyacht officers not just for the navigational aspects of remote regions, but what they can expect from an operational perspective as well."

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