In recent years, there has been unprecedented interest shown in the Arctic region by the industry, as it has become increasingly accessible for oil and gas exploration, shipping, and tourism. The decrease in ice extent in the Arctic has renewed the interest in the Northern Sea route, necessitating further research to evaluate the adequacy of the equipment and appliances used on vessels traversing in polar waters.

The introduction of the Polar Code by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) attempts to mitigate some of the risks endangering the vessels in Polar waters. The Polar Code is scheduled to take effect on 01.01.2017, and applies to all vessels traversing in polar waters. One of the requirements in the Polar Code is that means shall be provided to remove or prevent accretion of snow and/or ice from escape routes, embarkation areas and access points. Even though, prior to the formulation of Polar Code, the requirement for de-icing the deck surfaces on vessels already exists, the suitability of the equipment currently in use is debatable. Large amounts of energy is required to maintain an ice-free surface, which is not desirable economically or environmentally, due to the substantial increase in fuel consumption.

In this study, a heated deck element manufactured by GMC Maritime AS is subjected to cross flow wind of 5 m/s, 10 m/s and 15 m/s at various sub-zero temperatures in GMC Maritime AS’s climate laboratory in Stavanger, Norway. The deck element is rated to 1400 W / m2, and is one of the designs provided by GMC Maritime AS. The power consumption of the deck element is measured and compared to theoretical heat loss calculations. Large discrepancies between the measured power consumption and the theoretical heat loss were discovered, indicating the need for further studies on the matter.

As part of SARex Spitzbergen 2016, a search and rescue exercise conducted off North Spitzbergen, heated deck elements on board the Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel KV Svalbard were studied and are discussed in this paper. The heating elements in the deck elements were designed to specifications at the time of commissioning, but proves insufficient when the vessel is in transit or exposed to slight winds, allowing snow and ice to accumulate on the surface.

Finally, suggestions for a more energy efficient design of deck elements are made, as the current designs are found to have potential for improvement, especially due to the lack of insulation between the deck elements and the hull of the vessel.

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