The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA) and the Swedish Maritime Administration (Sjöfartsverket) have signed a cooperation agreement for the design of the next generation of icebreakers.
The design of the icebreakers will be carried out as a joint procurement. The cooperation agreement now concluded concerns only the design of the icebreakers; no agreement has yet been made on the possible construction of the icebreakers. The agreement applies to the design of two icebreakers for Finland and three for Sweden.
The size of the vessels operating to Finnish and Swedish ports is increasing. The tightening of environmental requirements, however, is reducing the engine power of merchant ships, and this reduced engine power affects their ability to move through ice.
‘Safeguarding the service level of winter navigation requires the development of the current icebreaker fleet. The cooperation agreement signed with Sweden is a continuation of many years of good cooperation in this field,’ says Kari Wihlman, Director General of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. The close cooperation between the two agencies is based on intergovernmental agreements. Similar cooperation has been carried out before, in the 1970s, as part of the procurement of the Urho/Atle vessels.
‘The first step towards the next generation of icebreakers has now been taken. Our current vessels are already at the end of their life cycle. Effective icebreaking is critical for us, as 90% of Swedish products travel by sea and so without effective icebreaking northern ports would be closed for 130 days of the year,’ explains Katarina Norén, Director General of the Swedish Maritime Administration.
In Finland, FTIA is responsible for the public office duties and procurement tasks associated with assisting winter navigation as well as for national coordination, development and control operations. Icebreaking services involve the assistance and towing of vessels in ice. FTIA has signed icebreaking service agreements with Arctia Icebreaking Oy, Alfons Håkans Oy and other private tugboat companies.
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