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Study recommends buying a new icebreaker for Estonia

Icebreaker Botnica.
Icebreaker Botnica. Source: Urmet Kook / ERR

A study commissioned by the Transport Administration has found that Estonia should procure a new icebreaker to ensure optimal traffic to and from sea ports in the wintertime.

Major investments are needed in ensuring the sustainability of icebreaking services in the coming decade as icebreaker Tarmo will be decommissioned in 2028, while Estonia's other vessels fir for the purpose, Botnica and EVA-316, have also been in service for a long time.

The Transport Administration estimates that Estonia needs at least two icebreakers to operate in the Gulf of Finland during cold winters, which is why the matter of replacing Tarmo has been on the agenda for a while.

The study in question was completed in cooperation of TalTech, Aker Arctic Technology Inc, logscale oy and Saaresalu OÜ. The modelling revealed that it is impossible to service all marine traffic inside a sensible time using a single icebreaker during harsh winters when the ice cover extends from the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland to northern Hiiumaa. During mild winters, it is enough to have a single modern traditional or multipurpose icebreaker in the Gulf of Finland and a smaller vessel in the Gulf of Riga.

The study proposes procuring or commissioning a new traditional icebreaker for Estonia. While the possibility of buying a second-hand icebreaker is also analyzed, the global used icebreakers market is virtually nonexistent.

While possible alternatives were also considered (such as equipping other vessels with special icebreaking bows), the authors find such solutions to be unsuitable for open sea conditions.

An icebreaker can be multipurpose, meaning the vessel can also be used for scientific research, crisis patrolling, as a mobile headquarters, pollution control in icy conditions, search and rescue etc.

The study materials can be found at the link.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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