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Icebreaking Operations Begin in Gulf of Finland

On 21 February 2018, the icebreaker Botnica headed for Sillamäe, thus opening the icebreaking season in the Gulf of Finland. Ice cover has formed in the vicinity of the Port of Sillamäe, and hummocked ice can be found in the region. As of 1 March, all vessels entering or leaving the Port of Sillamäe are required to have ice class 1D (Lloyd’s Register, or an equivalent ice class given by other classification societies) and main engine power at least 1200 kW.

In the previous winter navigation season, icebreaking operations were performed in the Gulf of Finland only for a few days because the sea did not freeze over, but winds and currents carried hummocked ice into the Port of Sillamäe area and 9 ships needed assistance to pass through it.

In order to provide icebreaking service in the Gulf of Finland, the State can use for the period from 2012 to 2022 the icebreaker Botnica belonging to TS Shipping, paying 4.7 million euro per year, even if the vessel is on standby. The Botnica uses about 30,000 litres of fuel daily when breaking ice. In the state budget, 6.376 million euro has been allocated to carry out icebreaking operations this year.

The State can use four vessels to provide icebreaking service. Two of these are state-owned: the Tarmo as a back-up icebreaker in the Gulf of Finland, and the multi-purpose vessel EVA-316 as the main icebreaker in Pärnu Bay; two more vessels are chartered if necessary – the Botnica as the main icebreaker in the Gulf of Finland and the Protector, owned by Alfons Hakans, for back-up in Pärnu Bay. Currently the Protector is already in use due to technical malfunction on the EVA-316.

In the picture: I/B Botnica in the roadstead at Paljassaare Harbour (photo by P. Põiklik)

See the ice chart of the Estonian Weather Service