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Navigation in Ice

Preparations & Precautions while Navigating in Ice:

  1. A large area of floating ice formed over a period of many years and consisting of pieces of ice-driven together by wind, current, etc. also called as ice-pack.
  2. Ice is an obstacle to any ship, even an ice-breaker, and the inexperienced navigation officer is advised to develop a healthy respect for the latent power and strength of ice in all its forms.
  3. However, it is quite possible, and continues to be proven so far well-found ships in capable hands to navigate successfully through ice-covered waters.
  4. The first principle of successful ice-navigation is to maintain freedom of man oeuvre.
  5. Once, a ship becomes trapped, the vessel goes where-ever the ice goes.
  6. Ice Navigation requires great patience and can be a tiring business with or without ice-breaker escort.
  7. Experience has proven that in ice of higher concentration, four basic ship-handling rules apply :
    • Keep moving – even very slowly, but try to keep moving,
    • Try to work with the ice-movement,
    • Excessive speed almost always results in ice damage,
    • Know your ship’s manoeuvring characteristics.
  8. Navigation in pack ice after dark should not be attempted without high-power search-lights which can be controlled easily from the bridge.
  9. In poor visibility, heave to and keep the propeller turning slowly as it is less susceptible to ice damage than if it were completely stopped.
  10. Propellers and rudders are the most vulnerable parts of the ship, ship’s should go astern in ice with extreme care – always with the rudder amid-ship.
  11. All forms of glacial ice / ice-bergs, bergy bits, growlers in the pack should be given a wide berth, as they are current driven whereas the pack is wind driven.
  12. When a ship navigating independently becomes beset, it usually requires ice-breaker assistance to free it. However, ships in ballast can sometimes free themselves by pumping and transferring ballast from side-to-side, and it may require very little change in trim or list to release the ship.
  13. Masters who are in-experienced in ice often find it useful to employ the services of an ice-pilot / advisor for transiting the Gulf of St. Lawrence in winter or an Ice-navigator for voyages into the Arctic in the summer.

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