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I/B Tarmo Needed in Gulf of Finland

The ice conditions in the Gulf of Finland have become more serious. Virtually the whole gulf east of Tallinn-Helsinki route is covered with ice. In the bays of Tallinn and Muuga the ice cover is still thin, up to 5 cm and made up of new ice, but from about the middle of the gulf towards the Finnish coast the ice is considerably thicker and there is very close ice. According to weather forecasts we can expect northeast winds up to 17 m/s and the ice will most probably move towards our coast and into the bays of Tallinn and Muuga.

East of the Tallinn-Helsinki route the ice cover is 10 to 20 cm thick and partly hummocked. The I/B Botnica, which has been working in the vicinity of the ports of Sillamäe and Kunda since 22 February, needs to break a channel in the ice and help vessels in convoy to get to the water area of the Port of Sillamäe, which is about 54 miles from where ships can still move on their own, and it takes up to 6 hours.

The Botnica has used 87,000 litres of fuel in four days and will have to stay at the Port of Sillamäe on 1 March in order to refuel and take on board the relief crew, so the back-up icebreaker Tarmo will be dispatched. If all goes according to plan, the Tarmo will leave for Sillmaäe on 28 February.

Icebreaking continues in Pärnu Bay, too. The ice sheet reaches 30 miles SW from the piers of the Port of Pärnu, the thickness of the ice is 15 to 25 cm and it is heavily hummocked on the edge of the ice sheet around 2.5 to 3.5 miles towards the sea. All ships, either in ballast or loaded, need icebreaker assistance in the area. As the ice is covered with 10 cm of snow, the ice sheet is getting thicker slowly but steadily. Northeast winds have carried ice into the Irbe Strait (Kura kurk) and yesterday morning some vessels had trouble moving there.

Since 31 January, the tug Protector has been working in Pärnu Bay, having provided icebreaking assistance on 84 instances. The multi-purpose vessel EVA-316 is expected to be operational again during this week – spare parts are being installed and the technical malfunction fixed. In total 128,000 litres of fuel has been used for icebreaking operations in Pärnu Bay so far.

Ice charts can be viewed on the Estonian Weather Service website and the Baltic Icebreaking Management webpage.

In the picture: I/B Tarmo at Hundipea Harbour (photo by P. Põiklik)