A challenging icebreaking season brought to successful completion

Fri May 31 15:07:00 2024

The Icebreaking season 2023–2024 ended on the 31th of May, as icebreaker Otso returned to the icebreaker base in Helsinki.

The exceptionally cold early winter quickly lowered surface water temperatures and the sea started freezing earlier than usual. The first icebreaker to go into operation was Kontio as early as 23 November. The last time that the season had started in November was in 2010. By the end of January, the entire fleet was at sea. On the Bay of Bothnia, merchant shipping was assisted by the icebreakers Otso, Kontio, Urho, Sisu and Polaris. On the Gulf of Finland, icebreaking services were provided by Voima, Fennica and Nordica.

The ice sheet reached its maximum area of 135,000 km² on 12 February. Ice was driven by winds into the Bay of Bothnia, forming walls of ice that made it difficult to navigate. Ice conditions were very challenging and at times almost all merchant vessels in the Kemi, Tornio and Oulu area needed towing assistance from icebreakers.

Thanks to its icebreaking fleet and expertise, Arctia managed the challenging icebreaking season with great success and the operation of merchant vessel traffic was duly ensured. Last season Arctia’s icebreakers clocked a total of 921 operating days. Assistance was provided a total of 2,067 times and up to 20% of the ships (422) had to be towed. The total mileage accumulated in the season was 78,635 nm. The average waiting time for merchant vessels, including the icebreakers, was 6.4 hours, while 95.8% of the ships entered ports without having to wait.

Arctia wishes to thank the personnel, Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Traficom, Fintraffic VTS Centres, Finnpilot pilots, vessels assisted by the icebreakers and their owners, shipbrokers, ports and Swedish icebreakers, the Swedish Maritime Administration and other partners for smooth cooperation during the past icebreaking season.