Polaris Commences Icebreaking in Bothnian BayBy Eric Haun
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered icebreaker Polaris has left its home base in Helsinki on Tuesday to become the third Finnish icebreaker active in this year’s icebreaking season.
The nearly 110-meter-long Polaris is the world’s first LNG powered icebreaker, running on both LNG and marine diesel. The vessel will head to Tahkoluoto, Pori, to bunker LNG before joining fellow icebreakers Kontio and Otso which departed on December 18, 2017 and January 9 respectively.
“The crew is very excited to begin icebreaking duty after a long summer and autumn,” said Pasi Järvelin, master of IB Polaris. “First we will bunker 700 cubic meters of LNG in Pori. Then we’ll join IB Kontio and IB Otso assisting traffic in the Bothnian Bay.”
Finland relies on icebreakers to keep ports and sea lanes open when the Baltic Sea freezes each winter, a service that is financed through a market-driven system based on fairway dues.
The three Finnish icebreakers presently at work in the Bothnian Bay (the northernmost part of the Gulf of Bothnia, which is the northern part of the Baltic Sea) are part of a fleet of eight icebreakers operated by state-owned Arctia, who provides icebreaking services, ice management and specialized multipurpose vessel services, along with the management and chartering of ships in Finland and abroad.
When the fleet is not required in the Baltic Sea, Finnish icebreakers are available for charter in polar areas.