Arctia icebreaking

Regular and safe marine traffic

Arctia's icebreakers ensure the reliability and safety of shipping lanes on Finland's coastal waters in the winter. Assisted by Arctia's icebreakers, merchant vessels can sail safely and reliably, regardless of the ice conditions.


Arctia’s icebreakers operate in Finland’s coastal waters when required by the weather conditions, ensuring reliable sea connections for Finland’s industries also in the winter. Arctia’s icebreaking services include assisting vessels as well as route planning and the related traffic control services. Icebreakers ensure the safety of winter navigation and assist merchant vessels by opening lanes, towing ships and dislodging vessels from the ice.


Arctia’s icebreaking expertise is based on modern specialised vessels and expert crews with years of experience in winter navigation.

Our goal is to provide even better icebreaking services that minimise delays in deliveries and guarantee safety in the most demanding circumstances. We perform our icebreaking services ecologically, safely, efficiently and economically.


Description of the icebreaking process

This animation presents the icebreaking process at a general level. Each assistance task is different, and decisions regarding the execution of each task are always made on a case-by-case basis.



Arctia’s icebreakers are designed for assisting merchant vessels en route to or from port in all ice conditions.


The icebreakers are deployed along Finland’s coast in cooperation with the winter navigation unit of the Finnish Transport Agency.


In the first instance, merchant vessels are expected to sail independently according to the instructions of the Vessel Traffic Services centre.


An icebreaker will make an assistance decision when it receives a message of a merchant vessel becoming stuck in ice, either directly from the vessel or relayed by the Vessel Traffic Services centre. Ships are assisted in order of notification, or in the order considered best for overall logistics by the icebreaker’s master.


When the icebreaker arrives to provide assistance, assisted vessels are expected to follow the icebreaker’s instructions.


The icebreaker will primarily seek to mitigate the pressure created by the ice field by cutting a channel alongside the merchant vessel. When the pressure has been relieved and the icebreaker gives the go-ahead, the merchant vessel can run its engines ahead.


When the merchant vessel is free, the icebreaker monitors the distance between the ships and the merchant vessel applies engine power according to the icebreaker’s instructions. Usually, the icebreaker will request merchant vessels to set full speed ahead.


If a convoy of several merchant vessels is following the icebreaker, each is responsible for maintaining a safe distance to the vessel ahead.


Wind can close the channel opened by the icebreaker, creating pressure in the ice field.


Merchant vessels may become stuck even when following an icebreaker.


The icebreaker may first try to free the merchant vessel by cutting a new channel to its side to momentarily relieve the pressure of the ice field.


After the icebreaker has freed the merchant vessel once more, it will resume following the icebreaker’s instructions.


If the merchant vessel gets stuck a second time, the icebreaker may decide to start towing the vessel.


The merchant vessel secures the towing wire provided by the icebreaker to its bow.


Large merchant vessels may not fit into the icebreaker’s towing notch.


Smaller vessels can be towed in the towing notch.


A convoy of other vessels can sometimes follow the merchant vessel being towed.


In extremely difficult ice conditions, the icebreaker can use its heeling system to reduce friction between its hull and the ice.

Safety for the growing volume of traffic on the Baltic Sea

Maritime traffic on the Baltic Sea is getting busier by the year, and an increasing number of tankers transport oil around the year. Arctia promotes the safety of winter navigation through our Ice Advisors service and by providing ICETRAIN ice navigation training in cooperation with other Finnish experts in winter navigation.

Ice Advisors

Ice Advisors Ltd is a company jointly owned by Finnpilot and Arctia Icebreaking Ltd. The company offers maritime ice advisor services to shipping companies. The advisors of Ice Advisors Ltd work on board vessels navigating icy waters on the Baltic Sea, assisting the master in choosing the safest and fastest route to the destination port and back to open water.

ICETRAIN training for foreign shipping companies

ICETRAIN ice navigation training is designed for foreign sea captains and officers who lack experience in navigating in ice. The course focuses on navigating icy waters. In addition to this, the students are familiarised with other essential matters related to winter navigation, such as icebreaking operations, cargo handling, the effects of ice load on the stability of vessels, and occupational health and safety.