The Finnish icebreaking season officially kicked off on Tuesday evening with the first icebreaker deployment.
Arctia’s converted polar icebreaker Otso departed the icebreaker base in Helsinki at 6 p.m. local time toward its initial operation area to keep open the fairways to Tornio, Kemi and Oulu. The vessel is expected to reach the area before noon on Thursday.
According to the latest ice report by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, ice in the Bay of Bothnia is drifting toward northeast. In the northern Bay of Bothnia's inner archipelago there is 10-20 cm thick fast ice. Farther out there is 5-15 cm thick very close ice, level ice and new ice to Kemi 2, Oulu 1 and Raahe lighthouse.
"Icebreaker Otso along with its crew is eager to begin the new season, said Otso's master Seppo Eva, right before heading to sea. "As we have learned, years are not alike, and ice conditions in the Bothnian Bay vary a lot. According to predictions, last season was supposed to be fairly mild, but it turned out to be far from it: on the last day of February all eight Arctia icebreakers were at sea assisting merchant vessels. Let's see, what the coming season will bring."
Arctia is the state-owned company responsible for operating the Finnish icebreaker fleet. The company currently operates a fleet of nine vessels, including the world's first icereaker powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), Polaris.
In 2017 the Finnish icebreaking season's first icebreaker departed the icebreaker base in Helsinki on December 18, Arctia said. In 2016 the first icebreaker deployed on December 8, and in 2015 on December 29.