Icebreaking Operations Begin in Gulf of Finland22.02.2018
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)
No Icebreaker Assistance Needed in Gulf of Finland Yet20.02.2018
In the Gulf of Finland ice with a thickness of 5 to 7 cm has formed in the vicinity of the ports of Kunda and Sillamäe, but it is no obstacle to vessel traffic yet. If the situation should change the icebreaker Botnica belonging to TS Shipping will perform icebreaking operations in the region. At the moment, the Botnica is on standby in Paljassaare Harbour.
Since 31 January, icebreaking service has been provided in Pärnu Bay by the tug Protector. The Protector has assisted ships in 66 cases so far, while the MA multipurpose vessel EVA-316 assisted ships in 31 instances when the icebreaking season began. Thus, icebreaker assistance has been required 97 times during this winter navigation season and 110,000 litres of fuel has been used.
The state-owned vessel EVA-316 is currently under repair for technical malfunction; the repair works depend on the availability of spare parts.
The ice sheet reaches 17 miles SW from the piers of the Port of Pärnu. The thickness of the ice is 10 to 20 cm and hummocked ice can be found 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 entering or leaving the Port of Pärnu. As the ice is covered with snow about 10 cm thick, the thickness of the ice sheet has not been increasing.
Ice Road Being Planned Between Haapsalu and Noarootsi in West Estonia16.02.2018
Due to the planning of an ice road in Haapsalu Bay the Estonian Maritime Administration (MA) will temporarily close vessel traffic on the basis of an application submitted by the Estonian Road Administration (RA).
By a decision of the Director General of the MA, as of 19 February 2018, 00:00 hrs, vessel traffic is prohibited in Haapsalu Bay south of Seasaar Island and east of Rohuküla-Sviby fairway.
In order to prepare an ice road, the RA will have to carefully examine the ice conditions in the area and ascertain that the ice sheet is at least 24 cm thick along the whole route. The announcement of the ice road being opened will be made by the RA.
At the moment, no ice roads are officially declared open.
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