Stories of the Finnish Arctic Expertise

All icebreakers at work

Compared to recent years, this winter has been very challenging for sea transport along the Finnish coastline and at sea. Nine icebreakers now assist marine traffic.

The situation is particularly difficult in the fairways to Oulu, Kemi and Tornio.

The last challenging winter was in 2011. This year the ice situation has developed in a similar way as in 2005: until the end of January, it seemed that the winter would be easy, but then severe frost arrived and the situation changed completely. Chilly weather is predicted to continue. This means that ice cover is likely to expand until mid-March.

Arctia’s multipurpose icebreaker Nordica joined the other icebreakers on the sea on Wednesday 28 February.

"Now all our nine icebreakers are at work," says Markus Karjalainen, Head of the Winter Navigation Unit at the Finnish Transport Agency.

In recent years, there has not been much ice, but winters have been windy. As the winds turn to west and south, the ice starts to pack, and this makes it difficult for the ships to move. Icebreakers open the lanes and assist merchant vessels by towing them and dislodging them from the ice.

”Winter navigation conditions in Finland are different from all other countries in that all our ports freeze every year. Even if there is not much ice in the open sea, the coastline is covered with ice”, Markus Karjalainen points out.

The Finnish Transport Agency decides when the icebreakers will set sail, and is responsible for their placement in the sea areas. In addition, the Finnish Transport Agency decides on traffic restrictions for ports so that the ice classification of ships corresponds to the prevailing ice situation. Maritime safety is the basis for making the decisions. 

Photo (c) Finnish Transport Agency

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