Friction in Finland over new icebreaker plan

Part of Finland's icebreaker fleet is based in Helsinki.  Image: YLEFinland may be getting an update to its icebreaker fleet soon. However, operators and Transport Minister Merja Kyllönen have different views on what is needed and what can be afforded.

A decision is expected in May on ordering a new icebreaker to replace the Voima which was commissioned in 1954.

The operator of Finland’s icebreaker fleet, Arctia Shipping, would like to acquire a new multi-role vessel that could be used for various tasks year round.

However, a multi-role icebreaker would cost up to 50% more than a traditional type.

“If we think about what’s needed, what the Voima has been, I would not replace it with a multi-role vessel,” says Transport Minister Merja Kyllönen.

Arctia Shipping, in turn, would like to be in charge of a fleet comprised solely of such ships. Multi-role icebreakers could find uses during the summer months, and if needed also be sent for operations outside the Baltic Sea, for example in the Arctic Ocean.

“These vessels would be a profitable business for years to come,” points out the company’s CEO Tero Vauraste.

The traditional-type icebreaker, paid for out of state funds, is expected to cost around 100 million euros. A decision on the matter is expected in May.

Two more icebreakers, the Urho and the Sisu, both built in the 1970’s are also likely to be replaced in coming years.

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