First icebreaking assistance restrictions enter into force in Tornio, Kemi and Oulu – Kontio heading for the Bothnian Bay for this weekend
Published 20.11.2023 16.15
The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency has imposed the first assistance restrictions for Tornio, Kemi and Oulu ports in the winter 2023–2024, which means that icebreaking assistance will be restricted to vessels of at least Finnish-Swedish ice class II and 2,000 deadweight tonnage. The restriction imposed now will enter into force on 22 November 2023, one day later than in Karlsborg and Luleå in Sweden and in Haraholmen. Finland and Sweden cooperate closely in the Gulf of Bothnia, the icebreaking fleet is operated as a single fleet as needed and restriction policies are coordinated together.
“So far, vessel traffic has been assisted by tugboats in ice conditions. The below-freezing conditions in the north continue, and Arctia’s icebreaker Kontio will arrive in the Bothnian Bay for icebreaking this weekend. The weather conditions and ice formation are monitored using the information and the forecasting service produced by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Icebreaking capacity will be increased, and restrictions will be raised as needed,” says Helena Orädd, Head of Unit at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
In the coming winter, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency will impose assistance restrictions based on ice conditions in ports on the same principles as in previous winters. In addition to tugboats, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency’s fleet includes Arctia’s six traditional icebreakers and two multifunctional icebreakers and Alfons Håkans’s Zeus of Finland and combination of the tugboat Calypso and the detachable icebreaking bow Saimaa. Assistance operations in Lake Saimaa will be carried out to the extent required by raw timber transportation within the lake, as was done in the previous winter.
The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency is responsible for the public office duties and procurement associated with winter navigation, for national coordination and for decision-making on port assistance restrictions. The service providers maintain the icebreaking equipment and provide icebreaking services. Cooperation with the neighbouring countries with which the shared use of the icebreaker capacity is agreed is also important.
According to the service promise of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the help of icebreakers is available within approximately four hours. Icebreakers do not only travel along the channels leading to ports. Countless vessels are also assisted on the open sea. The costs of winter navigation are approximately EUR 70 million per year, as all Finnish ports freeze during normal winters.
Maritime Transport Specialist Tuomas Taivi, tel. +358 (0)29 534 3328 or [email protected]