Safety

Go safely, to the planet’s wildest places

All passenger ships plying polar waters are equipped with a GMDSS (Global Maritime & Distress Safety System) emergency communication system and a satellite weather forecasting system. However, more technology is available that can be harnessed for greater cruise ship security and safety. Knowing that the ship you’re traveling on contains the latest technology further assures your peace of mind, as well as your safety. As the world’s ultimate expedition ship, National Geographic Explorer was purpose-built with technology specific to safe polar travel.

Forward scanning sonar
Explorer is one of the few passenger ships fitted with forward scanning sonar—allowing the captain to peer ahead for uncharted rocks or obstacles underwater. This allows the officers to safely navigate the ship in many of the more remote areas in which we travel, giving you the opportunity to call at new locations or areas hardly ever visited by other passenger ships.

Double weather forecasting
We subscribe to two independent weather forecasting companies and receive real time satellite images of weather and ice conditions. The Bon Voyage service provides predictions on wind, sea and swell, while our Wind Plot service uses a Gridded Binary forecasting system to accurately predict wind conditions every six hours at almost any location. Such detailed weather forecasting systems allow us to make better informed decisions—for safety and to drastically reduce cancelled landings due to poor weather.

Ice radar
Provides an adjustable, high-definition picture using data from the ship’s 3cm wavelength radar. By averaging the radar picture over a length of time, the ice radar processor filters out the scatter, resulting in a clearer image and reducing the likelihood of an unplanned ice encounter. Different sizes of ice and open leads are easily discerned in the radar, allowing the captain to better choose the safest routes through ice packs.

Ice light
A xenon bulb ice light, mounted on the mast, shines forward and brightly reflects ice. This equipment is useful at night and in heavier seas, when waves may prevent the radar, or an unaided eye, from picking up hazardous ice.

Emergency Communications
The ship is also equipped with five portable Iridium satellite phones, relying on 66 near polar-orbiting satellites for continuous coverage, including emergency communication on lifeboats. In addition, two EPIRBs (Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacons) send out a coded distress signal giving position in the case of an incident; and two Search and Rescue Transponders are on board to aid in any search and recovery effort.

IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) Emergency Response System
Developed by our VP of Marine Operations Leif Skog, Ice Master and captain of Explorer, it ensures that all IAATO ships in Antarctica keep in daily touch to form the initial response for any incident. Tested during a 2007 distressed vessel incident, it resulted in several ships, including National Geographic Endeavour, responding and arriving on the scene within a matter of hours.

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