Finland, Saimaa

World’s first motorised detachable icebreaking bow

The new detachable icebreaking bow will make it possible to keep Saimaa’s deep-water channels open year round

"Industry in the Saimaa region has wished for the extension of the current traffic season, as it has to resort to substitute transport when the canal is closed. Existing icebreakers cannot always assist merchant vessels effectively in difficult ice conditions. The detachable bow is able to break ice that is up to 70 cm thick,” says Kari Wihlman, Director-General of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
The detachable bow, which will be attached to the tugboat, will significantly improve icebreaking in the Saimaa Canal, and the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency’s aim in for ships to be able to operate in the Saimaa Canal nearly year-round in the future.

A more climate-friendly approach to icebreaking with hybrid machinery

"The development of the Saimaa winter navigation fleet and the construction of a detachable bow were first discussed in 2013, but the detachable bow project was initiated in 2018," explains Juuso Kummala, Director of Infrastructure Access and Information Services at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
The detachable bow was designed by engineering company ILS and built by Turku Repair Yard. JapaTiko has been the project’s building supervisor.
In this combination, the Calypso tugboat owned by Alfons Håkans will be the driver. It will be connected to the motorised detachable bow with a three-point hitch to create an icebreaker with more power.
The detachable bow’s machinery is a hybrid solution which will store energy and depending on the ice conditions allow the ship to operate with one engine saving fuel and reducing emissions.
“The detachable bow will be put in action immediately is winter progresses normally,” states Kummala.

Building the new and innovative ship type gave incentive

"This new building project has been a unique challenge for our repair yard, in which our company’s extensive network has played a strong role. It is important and significant that Finland has strong expertise in the maritime industry. We are proud that this completely new and innovative ship type has been developed and built in Finland,” says Johan Backas, Managing Director of Turku Repair Yard.
"Turku Repair Yard and the BLRT Grupp wish to congratulate the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency on its new ship. We wish the detachable bow successful sailings and look forward to the upcoming icebreaking season. “

Further information:

The development of the detachable bow has been part of the WINMOS II project (Winter Navigation Motorways of the Sea II), which is an EU-CEF-funded winter navigation development project. The project’s objective is to develop and improve winter navigation, its cost efficiency and its safety, and to secure sufficient icebreaking resources in the future.
Icebreaking service refers to assisting and towing vessels in icy conditions, safeguarding the safety of waterway transport and providing the related traffic control. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency is responsible for the public office duties and procurement associated with winter navigation as well as for the national coordination, development and control operations.

Press contact: 

The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency
Director of Infrastructure Access and Information Services Juuso Kummala

Phone. +358 29 534 3548