The ice cover of the Baltic Sea varies considerably from year to year. The northern parts freeze every winter, sometimes completely during hard winters. The current icebreaker fleet available in the Baltic Sea is incapable of providing a satisfactory level of service in a hard ice winter. The combination of growing traffic volumes and hard ice winters can lead to serious difficulties for industrial and commercial transports.
Some vessels of the current icebreaker fleet are close to reaching their lifespan. Replacement investments will not yield a satisfactory level of service in hard ice winter conditions. Even in an average ice winter, a satisfactory level is nearly impossible due to growing traffic volumes. For example: a large oil tanker requires simultaneous assistance from two traditional icebreakers. Only combined are they capable of breaking a sufficiently wide channel through ice.
The objective of the ICEWIN project is to find out what benefits can be attained in the level of service of ice breaking assistance by: (i) adopting new technical solutions and/or (ii) utilising a new type of agreement system in the Baltic Sea. The focus will be on logistics, especially oil transports, environmental emissions and risks.
The new technical solutions may be the innovations that are alone capable of breaking a sufficient wide channel for over-wide merchant vessels, like oil tankers. The technical solutions are available, but have not been introduced.
The new agreement system to be developed would be based on the utilisation of icebreaking capability of independently ice-going merchant vessels. It is important that jointly accepted rules could be enforced for cases where the capacity of conventional icebreakers is not sufficient.
Finding a way to improve the level of service with respect to icebreaking assistance. This is important due to limited icebreaking resources. In some cases merchant ships have been forced to wait several days for icebreaker assistance.
ICEWIN shows that the capacity of icebreaking vessels can be used more effectively, when Finland, Estonia and Russia cooperate and assist each other in icebreaking assistance.
Also the level of service can be improved by means of the new types of agreement concepts. Some merchant vessels can run independently on ice conditions. The new types of agreement concepts developed in the project, are based on the exploitation of these strong merchant vessels for assisting other ships on the same route.
It is recommended that the EU Commission takes into account the current situation and will promote measures which enable exploitation of the icebreaking resources as efficiently as possible. Further recommendations are: initiating measures to reform regulations in order to provide for the introduction of the suggested new types of agreement concepts, and the promotion of measures which encourage acquisition of vessels with good ice characteristics.
An efficient and integrated mobility system: Service quality and reliability