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Spring Is Here, but Icebreaking Continues

Astronomical spring begins today, but icebreaking in Estonian waters continues. In the Gulf of Finland, ice conditions became more difficult on 16 March when northern winds pushed ice from Finnish waters into Estonian waters. Currently the wind is blowing from the west and southwest and ice is moving eastward. East of Vaindloo Island ice conditions are rather complicated, with lots of hummocked ice, and most vessels require icebreaker assistance to get into the ports of Kunda and Sillamäe.

The I/B Botnica is operating in the Gulf of Finland in the region around the ports of Kunda and Sillamäe, having assisted ships on 38 occasions since 22 February. The I/B Tarmo replaced the Botnica for three days at the beginning of March, assisting ships in 4 instances and using 47,000 litres of fuel. In total, about 350,000 litres of fuel has been used for icebreaking activities in the Gulf of Finland. The Tarmo is currently on standby in Hundipea Harbour.

In the bay of Pärnu, fast ice reaches 20 miles southwest of piers of the Port of Pärnu. The thickness of the ice in the bay is 15 to 35 cm, with hummocked ice on the edge of the ice sheet around 2.5 to 3.5 miles towards the sea. All vessels in the area, either in ballast or loaded, need icebreaker assistance. The Irbe Strait (Kura kurk) and the whole western part of the Gulf of Riga is covered with ridged ice, but due to the western winds the area is becoming partly ice-free. East of Ruhnu Island there is open water or very little ice and ships can move freely. In Pärnu Bay, the MA multi-purpose vessel EVA-316 has provided icebreaking service on 81 occasions; tugs belonging to Alfons Hakans assisted vessels in 103 instances. In total, assistance has been required 184 times and 240,000 litres of fuel has been used.