Icebreaker deploys on first winter mission

There's already up to 20cm of thick ice in the Bay of Bothnia's inner archipelago which could impede shipping if it's not kept clear.

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File picture of Icebreaker Otso / Credit: Arctia Ltd

A Finnish icebreaker is deploying today on its first mission of the winter to keep sea routes clear of ice.

The Polar icebreaker Otso, part of Arctia Oy‘s fleet, left Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour on Christmas Day evening, heading for the northern Bay of Bothnia to keep the waterways open to Tornio, Kemi and Oulu. The vessel will arrive in the area around noon on 27th December.

According to the latest ice reports from the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI, ice in the area where Otso will operate is drifting towards the north east. There’s already 10cm to 20cm of thick ice in the Bay of Bothnia’s inner archipelago.

“Icebreaker Otso along with its crew is eager to begin the new season” says Seppo Eva the ship’s captain before leaving port.

“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 Arctic icebreakers were at sea assisting merchant vessels. Let’s see what the coming season will bring” says Eva.

Today’s deployment comes a little later than in recent years, but not too much later.

Back in 2017 the first icebreaker departed the base in Helsinki on 18th December. In 2016 it was 8th December; but in 2015 it was 29th December.