Ice-breakers in Arctic (2)


The residents of the Baltic will constitute in Copenhagen into 92 the Council of the States of the Baltic, on the initiative of the German and Danish Ministers for the foreign affairs. The members of the Council are the 11 states of the area: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden as well as the European commission. The Council does not have a clean budget. Each country thus implements its own maritime means.

The Northern part of the Baltic freezes every year and at the time of rigorous winters the entire sea may be covered by ice. But the maritime trade does not decrease and navigation towards the Finnish ports is facilitated by the assistance of the ice-breaker. A pilot service is organized since 1696 when Finland was still part of Sweden. The maritime administration, Merenkulkulaitos, was created after Finland independence in 1917. It comprises 3 services: piloting, lights and beacons, and ice-breakers. In 1990, Merenkulkulaitos separates from the services of piloting and the ice-breaker. Finnpilot and Fintaship become 2 independent structures, but always belonging to the State. Finstaship offers a broad panel of ice-breaking service by ensuring the maritime operations and while making it possible to the passengers to reach their destination.


Urho Urho
For decades, Finland has been one of the leading nations in the construction and the technological development of ice-breakers. In 1898, Finland acquires Europe's first ice-breaker , fitted with a bow propeller which gives more agility and power. The first ice-breakers were steamers and rose briefly on top of the ice before breaking it. In 1938, Finland completes the first diesel-electric, more nimble and economic and with a better operational range. The following stage is the construction of TARMO-class  in the 1950s and 1960s, followed by URHO and SISU in 1975-76 after the authorization of year-round shipping to the ports in the Gulf of Bothnia. Built by Wärtsilä in Helsinki, URHO, is used to open the roads in winter. Propelled by 5 electric Diesel 12-cyindres developing 17,100 kw (23,250 HP.), connected to 4 electrical motors of 5,500 HP each one, she can reach 18.5 knots.


A new generation is born with OTSO and KONTIO (15.000 kw) in 1986-87 more economically than their predecessors for the same power thanks to 4 engines 16 cylinders. The front engines, running on the recent ice-breakers, were replaced by an air bubbling system which decreases the resistance of the ice. This resistance is also reduced by modifications in the shape of hull. The crew is of 28 men.


In 1993, Finland obtains its first multifunction ice-breaker, FENNICA, followed the following year by her sister ship, NORDICA
Combination of ice-breaker and support vessel on offshore oil rig, FENNICA, launched on 10 November 1992, is able to break some 1.8 m thickness ices.  The shape of hull, the system of propulsion by electrical motors (Azipod) enables to ship on the open sea and to turn of 360 degrees. Out of free water, she can reach 16 knots and she can receive 120 people on board. 
BOTNICA, equipped at Aker yards in Rauma in 98 with 12 Carterpillar 12 cylinders and 2 engines with Azipod stem, with a speed of 10 knots, may receive 72 people; she is also used for underwater work.
FENNICA, NORDICA and BOTNICA at sea spend the season of free water of North in various work for the oil and gas fields. FENNICA is specialized in the installation of oil and gas pipes to more than 1 km of depth; NORDICA is equipped like a cable-laying ship with a plough to bury pipes and cables. BOTNICA takes part in the maintenance of the pipelines. 

23 of the 60 ports commercial Finnish remain open all the year; they are visited by approximately 9000 ships transporting 27 tons million of goods.

Suur Toll

In Estonia, SUUR TOLL is the largest preserved ice-breaker, with successive flags: Russian when built, Finnish in 1918, Estonian in 1922 when renamed Suur Toll, to ensure a regular winter navigation to Tallinn until the annexation by the USSR in 1940. She becomes then VOLYNETS, attached to Leningrad. Between 1951 and 1952 she undergoes a overhaul in Rauma, Finland then is disarmed in 1985 before returning to Tallinn where she becomes museum in 92. Her 3 steam engines triples expansion of origin and interior spaces are preserved. Tonnage 2,391 GRT, 838 Net, dim. 75.4 X 19.2 X 5.7m., length 72.1 Mr. Speed 13.5 knots. Three propellers, one foreword two aft. 9 officers and 34 men of crew.
In Poland, PERKUN built in 1963 in Appledore, is registered in Szczecin. The ship, 56.5 m long is propelled by two shafts. In 82, she is chartered by the Polish Academy of Science for various scientific cruises in Spitzberg and PERKUN supplies the polar Station of the Hornsund fjord. She is also used for Petrobaltic during construction of a drilling platform off Baltiysk (Kaliningrad). She is the first ice-breaker to join the Amazon.



The ice-breaker and patrol SVALBARD enters in service for the Norwegian armed forces in 2002. She can be useful for the rescue at sea and in the fire control. Her zone of operation comprises the Arctic north of Norway, the Barents sea and the Svalbard island.

Displacement: 6500 tons Length: 103.7 m Power supply: 4 diesel generators of 3390 kW Propulsion: 2 Azipod Speed: 17.5 knots

Wärtsila delivers to Sweden the ice-breakers Oden in 1957, TOR in 1964 and Njord in 1969 to keep the Gulf of Bothnia ports open in winter. This equipment does not solve all the difficulties when the Baltic is covered with ice. Thus ATLE arrives in 1974 followed by Frej in 1975 and Ymer in 1977. TOR is Diesel-electric a 84.5 m long with propellers forward, and two aft. ATLE is long of more than 104.5 m and reaches 18.5 knots.

ODEN, built in 1988 in Gotenborg for Svenskt Isbrytarkonsortium KB, is an ice-breaker engaged by the Royal Academy of Sciences to accompany polar research operations. The Swedish maritime Administration, Sjöfartsverk, direct its ice-breakers from Gothenburg.
Displ. 13.000 tons 108 m X 31.5 m; 4 Sulzer diesels, two propellers, 24.500 CH, 17 knots; crew: 25. 

Ice-breaker STETTIN is built by the Stettiner Oderwerke yard in 1933 for the Chamber of commerce of Stettin (until 1945 in Germany, since 1945 Szczecin, Poland). The economy in Stettin strongly depends of the access to the Baltic and the ice-breakers are consequently used to maintain the channels free during the winter. 
STETTIN is characterized by the bow called Runeberg-bow where the ice is not broken any more by the weight of the ship but by a cutting stem, allowing to cut a half-meter thickness of ice. The ice-breaker is motorized by a steam piston engine which can be reversed in one short period, useful in the operations. The crew is of 24 men. From 1933 to 1945, Stettin is used on Odder between Stettin and Swinemünde (Swinoujscie), and also in Baltic sea, for the Kriegsmarine. She became a museum in Hamburg

The POLARSTERN is a modern German ice-breaker implemented by the Institute Alfred Wegener like ship of research, sailing often in the Antarctic.

Unlike the Antarctic, the north pole is not a continent but a point in the middle of the Arctic Ocean and covered permanently by the ice-barrier. This ocean is bordered in the east by Russia (Barents sea, Kara sea, Laptev sea, Eastern Siberia sea), in South-east by the archipelagos of Franz Joseph land  and Spitzberg, in South-west by Greenland, on West side by Canada. Face to Russia, but also for its own needs, Canada engages for a long time specialized ships.

Thus in 1876 the NORTHERN LIGHT, a wooden ferry, is put into service between Georgetown and Pictou in the strait of Northumberland. The compound engine of 700 hp was not powerful enough and the career of the first Canadian ice-breaker is enamelled of breakdowns, with a high coal consumption. By twice in 1881, the passengers were blocked. NORTHERN LIGHT will be replaced in 1888.

The Canadian Royal Guard needed a ship to supply its stations of the Far North; it ordered ST ROCH to Burrard Dry Dock Company. Built in thick boards of Douglas pine and sheathed with durable Australian gumwood, she was very resistant, but her diesel engine of only 150 hp did not develop enough power. From 1928 to 1948 she is used as supply ship in the Arctic and floating police station. The ship sails towards the east by the North-West passage in 1940-1942 and, second ship to cross the passage, returned towards the west by the same way in 1944. Withdrawn in 1948, ST ROCH is sent to Halifax through Panama in 1950: she becomes the first ship to sail round North America before being anchored definitively in a museum at Vancouver. 
Engaged in the cold war, Canada needed to patrol in the Arctic to maintain its military bases and to defend its sovereignty. The Navy orders LABRADOR going in service on July 8th, 1954. Designed according drawings of American Arctic patrol crafts, she carries an helicopter, has very powerful diesel-electric engines. The ship (at the same time floating laboratory, hospital, transport, rescue, school and ship of exploration) goes up Northbound with 20 officers, 12 scientists and approximately 200 crew. During this maiden voyage, LABRADOR becomes the first military ship to cross the North-West passage. In 1958 the Navy transfers Labrador to the Canadian coastal Guard. Based in North Sydney, she contributes to the winter navigation services in the Gulf of St Lawrence and in summer, in the Arctic. She will be scrapped in Taiwan in 1989.



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