For ships operating in the polar regions such as the northern route around Russia, there is now an extra qualification required for those on board. Certain countries require ships navigating in there polar or ice bound waters are required to carry an ice pilot those possibly if the ship's crew have this qualification they can do without the ice pilot.
I cannot claim to be an expert in ice navigation or indeed anything else but I have done a couple of voyages up to Montreal in mid winter on container ships with ice belts and with ice breaker assistance. What I can recall of navigating in ice in the gulf of saint Lawrence is that you needed bloody good search lights for night navigation and upon approaching ice to had to go into it head on at slow speed and allow the ships bow to ride up onto and crush the ice and to avoid attempting to go through the ice ridges.