Kontio sets off for the Bay of Bothnia as the season’s first icebreaker

Arctia's icebreaker Kontio will set off from Katajanokka, Helsinki, on Thursday 23 November 2023 as the first icebreaker this winter. The vessel will head for the Bay of Bothnia where ice is beginning to form at the northernmost end. Kontio will reach its destination on 25 November.

When Kontio leaves for the Bay of Bothnia, it will carry in its tanks 660,000 litres of low-sulphur diesel fuel, 200 cubic metres of water as well as 10 days' worth of provisions. “Kontio’s crew is looking forward to the new season, assisting and towing ships into ports. We’re pleased to be able to do this very special, important and globally unique job on this fine ship," says Veli Luukkala, Master of the icebreaker Kontio.

The icebreaking season is starting earlier than in previous years. In 2022, the firs icebreaker sailed to the Bay of Bothnia on 11 December, in 2021 on 3 December and in 2020 on 25 December. The colder-than-normal weather in October and November has lowered sea surface temperatures and ice has already formed in our northern waters. It has been quite a while since the Bay of Bothnia started to freeze this early, and merchant ships are already in need of assistance.

Compared with the situation a few years ago, the previous icebreaking season was long, lasting from mid-December to the end of May. The early winter was mild and relatively easy as far as icebreaking is concerned. However, the Bay of Bothnia froze over completely in early March. Varying weather conditions and winds created expanses of slush and packed ice that were hard to navigate, posing challenges to merchant vessels. Last season Arctia’s icebreakers clocked a total of 481 operating days.

The icebreakers operate on Finland’s coastal waters to enable winter navigation, which is of crucial importance to Finnish business and industry, as 95 percent of exports and imports to Finland are transported by sea.  Icebreaker crews work round the clock seven days a week. Crews are rotated every 10 days, which is also the interval at which the vessels take in fuel and water and replenish the stores.



Eija Koli

Communications Manager

+358 40 725 3911



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