The Cold Hard Facts About Polar Sailing
Conditions can be extreme in both Polar Regions, even at the height of summer. This is why ships sailing these areas must adhere to strict design and construction standards.
What Are “Ice Classes” Or “Ice Ratings?”
These are international standards for ships sailing in regions where water freezes for part of the year. Some vessels are rated to operate in “first year” ice, while others are rated for “multi-year” ice - which is what you find in the Polar Regions.
Icebreakers - the highest rating available - are identified by a “double-L” rating. For instance, 50 Years of Victory (the world’s most powerful icebreaker) is rated LL1. These ships are polar-class - purpose-built for navigating multi-year ice.
Designations for ships with ice-strengthened hulls are either alphabetical, with A class the highest, or numerical with 1 at the top. Thus, ice-strengthened ships with the highest ice classes are rated as lA, 1A or L1. These are followed by lB, 1B and L2, and then lC, 1C or L3 and so on.
Always check a ship’s ice-rating if you are concerned about safety. Every Quark ship carries an ice-class rating of 1D or higher.