The oldest vessel in Arctia's icebreaker fleet, Voima has seen service for more than half a century! Over thirty years have passed since the ship last underwent a major overhaul, but in the capable hands of Voima's skilled crew, this fit veteran has continued to provide service beyond all expectations.
After the Second World War, the prospects of Finnish winter navigation were discouraging, as the only icebreaker capable of providing assistance for shipping in the open sea (Jääkarhu) was ceded to the Soviet Union as part of the war reparations. In 1946, a commission was founded to address the problem, with the task to design new icebreakers.
Commissioned in 1954, Voima was the first of the new icebreakers to emerge from the rebuilding programme. At the time of its launch, this vessel was a special case, even from an international perspective. For the first time in the world, an icebreaker had been fitted with fore propellers with opposite rotation.
Voima was designed for use in the open sea, with a wide beam that allowed 10,000 dwt cargo ships and 16,000 dwt tankers to travel in the channel it had broken. Voima's great engine power and excellent maneuverability (the vessel is able to turn around completely without moving forward or backward, as well as move sideways) aroused considerable interest outside Finland.
For the builder of this speciality of its time, the Hietalahti shipyard, the vessel was a showcase of design and craftsmanship. Wärstilä proceeded to build three sister ships for Voima that were delivered to the Soviet Union (Kapitan Belousov in 1954, Kapitan Voronin in 1955 and Kapitan Melehov in 1956), and one that was delivered to Sweden (Oden in 1957).
Vessel under renovation
In 1978 -1979, Voima underwent a major overhaul. The machinery of the ship was replaced and the interior of the ship was refurbished to meet modern standards. All structures above the deck were entirely rebuilt, resulting in a vessel that bore some resemblance to Urho and Sisu.
The sides of the vessel were strengthened with plates to provide protection against pressure from ice; the ship was fitted with a completely new main engine, new electric devices, new quarters for the crew, and a new bridge. The engines driving the propellers were replaced. Private quarters were provided for every crewmember, located above deck for reduced noise. The cost of the renovation was 60 percent of that of a new icebreaker.
The sturdy Voima has proven its mettle in the Baltic Sea over the decades. It provided a standard for four-propeller icebreakers, and the lessons learned from it were applied to subsequent vessels.