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Ice tests in Lake Saimaa were a real test of strength between detachable bow and 60 cm thick ice

Published 30.3.2021 12.16

On paper, the world’s first motorised detachable icebreaking bow is a great thing but what about practice? This was examined by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency in ice tests in which the detachable bow was put through its paces. Preliminary results show that the thick ice layer was no match for the brand-new detachable bow.


Which will emerge on top: Saimaa or Saimaa? Last week, ice tests were carried out in Joensuu to determine the winner. The Saimaa deep-water channel, strengthened by a cold winter, was pitted against the detachable icebreaking bow Saimaa, a technological marvel.

The aim was to find a location with extremely thick ice so that the detachable bow could be put to a real test. The timing was spot on. The mild spell had not yet hit Finland and in some locations, an ice thickness of more than 60 cm was measured.

“We went to a place known for thick ice cover and then used an auger to check the thickness of the ice,” explains Ilari Rainio, Maritime Transport Specialist at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.

After the strength of the adversary had been determined, it was time to start. The end result was no surprise: the ice was beaten in all battles.

Of course, the ability of the detachable bow to break thick ice was not the only thing that the experts wanted to know. They also measured the impacts of ice thickness on speed and how much power was needed to break the ice. Final test result will be available later in the spring.

“We can already say that the early results look good. The detachable icebreaking bow works in both theory and in practice,” Rainio says.

Ready to meet future challenges

The detachable bow is a major investment in waterway transport in Lake Saimaa by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. Using this technology, the agency might even be able to extend the navigation season of the Saimaa deep-water channel.

“With better icebreaking equipment, we will be better placed to meet the needs of industries. With the detachable bow, we would also be able to open tracks for larger ships in difficult winter conditions,” Rainio explains.

This winter, you can spot the detachable bow in the Saimaa deep-water channel where it will assist traffic until the end of the winter season.

Facts about the detachable bow Saimaa

  • The detachable bow has two main engines and two propellers.
  • The detachable bow is attached to a pusher tug Calypso, which operates the bow.
  • The machinery of the detachable bow is energy-efficient. Ice conditions permitting, the detachable bow can operate at less than full power. This saves fuel and reduces costs.
  • The detachable bow was designed by ILS Oy and built by Turku Repair Yard Ltd. It is owned by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.


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