Taking photographs, video or audio recordings at the icebreaker dock area in Katajanokka Helsinki requires a permit. Apply for the permit in writing from the Communications Manager at least one week in advance.
Taking photographs of the icebreakers outside the dock area is permitted provided that it is done safely and without compromising anyone’s privacy. Please note that, for reasons of safety, access to the immediate vicinity of the icebreakers inside the dock area is forbidden.
We are currently compiling an image bank of photographs featuring our icebreakers. These images are intended for use by the media and their unauthorized publication, editing and distribution for commercial purposes is forbidden.
Unless otherwise stated, Arctia owns the copyrights to the images. Users of the images must indicate Arctia Ltd as the source.
(General information and guidelines. Please always consult Arctia’s Communications Manager for up-to-date information)
Every winter, a large part of the Baltic Sea is covered by ice. All seaports in Finland may freeze over in wintertime. Seaborne foreign trade, that counts about 80–90% of all Finnish foreign trade, would simply stop without the help of icebreakers. Therefore, icebreaking is a prerequisite to enable year-round shipping and exports by sea in Finland. Icebreakers assist other vessels to and from ports, free them from ice and provide towing.
In case of severe ice conditions, Finland and other countries along the coasts of the northern Baltic Sea must have enough icebreakers even if all of them are not needed every year. Ice conditions in the Baltic Sea vary considerably from one year to another. Usually the icebreaking season lasts from late December until early May. Ice conditions are usually hardest in February.
A Finnish icebreaker is served by a crew of about 20 people at any given time. The length of the working period is 20 days, followed by ten days off. Therefore, some of the crew change over in port every 10 days, at which time the vessel is also refueled and restocked with provisions.
Getting on and off board an icebreaker
Finnish icebreakers in the Baltic Sea operate 24/7 without unscheduled port calls during the winter. They are chartered by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and provide a public function, that cannot and will not be interrupted by much else than emergencies. Thus, getting on board an operational icebreaker is not that easy to arrange for Arctia Ltd. as shipowner and operator.
Scheduled port calls to change the crew, get provisions and refuel happen every ten days. Because of operational reasons, the crew change port is usually decided only a couple days before the change, and there will be no certainty over the port before that.
Technically you and your team can get on board on a scheduled crew change date. Arranging your embarkation with the icebreaker’s Master and the crew change port’s authorities falls under the duties of Arctia’s Communications Manager and includes discussions with the port’s harbormaster as well as the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
Getting off the icebreaker before the next port call in ten days’ time is trickier, as the icebreaker is on operational duty with strict rules to assist other vessels at sea. Therefore, your team will have to be prepared to spend the whole 10-day period at sea. The disembarkation port is usually decided only a couple days before the change, and there will be no certainty over the port before that.
If you wish to disembark before the next crew change date, you should discuss the limited options with Arctia’s Communications Manager. There may not be any way to settle or even discuss this option before your team is on board.
Please note, that all Finnish icebreakers operate according to weather and ice conditions as well as the operational situation. The needs of winter navigation go above all else, and the Master has final say on all decisions on board.
Where to find more information on icebreaking and the winter navigation system in Finland?
Before embarking one of our icebreakers, we advise you to take a closer look at our website, especially the News section, so that you understand what we do here at home and abroad:
A description of the icebreaking process (as video animation) can be found on our website:
Monocle’s film on icebreaking operations (filmed on board IB Kontio in February 2019) here:
The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency also has an informative site on winter navigation on the Baltic Sea:
In 2017 we had a Scottish author Horatio Clare on board IB Otso, and he wrote a wonderful book based on his experience. You might want to read that one as well: