The agreement marks the first step in a joint procurement process to modernise both nations’ existing fleets. The design and development phase is estimated to be worth 3 to 4 million euros and ready by the end of 2021. No decision has yet been made about the sequential construction phase.
An increase in the size of merchant vessels and green limitations for engine power require additional ice-breaking capacity in the Baltic Sea in order to ensure smooth commerce in all seasons. An estimated 90 per cent of the imports and exports of Finland and Sweden are transported by sea.
“Our foreign trade and competitiveness are based on year-round security of supply,” told Kari Wihlman, director general of FTIA. “An adequate level of assistance available from icebreakers is a prerequisite for ensuring that the raw materials and different products are in the right place at the right time.”
Mapping out the future
In addition to catering to the escort needs of larger merchant ships, the ship’s new design will also have to take into account future-proofing needs in sustainability, such as the transition to fossil-free fuel by 2030.
“The design goals of this project are ambitious, and, even though we have just designed icebreakers capable of reaching the North Pole, we consider this new icebreaker to be the most challenging design task we have ever faced,” commented Reko-Antti Suojanen, managing director of Aker Arctic.”
“As the operational requirements and environmental conditions are changing in the Bothnian Bay, we will work closely with the Finnish and Swedish operators to jointly develop a solution that best answers to the future icebreaking needs. With an operational lifetime spanning half a century, the new icebreaker must be designed to comply with future emission goals.”