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Icebreakers go to work

Finland's icebreakers have got down to doing their job exceptionally late this winter. However, ice cover in the Baltic is thickening, and this week the doyen of the nation's icebreaker fleet, the Voima, finally put out to sea.

Jäänmurtaja Voima
Voima starttasi Katajanokan laiturista aamutuimaan talven ensimmäiselle työmatkalleen. Image: Yle

Tied up at dock in Helsinki since last spring, the icebreaker Voima was prepared to set to sea in the early morning hours of Friday. Even though it is the oldest and smallest of the fleet, in both size and power, her crew is a proud one.

"The Voima is anyway the most handsome and the best of the fleet and this was originally known as a giant icebreaker," says First Mate Teemu Alstela.

First taken into service in 1954, the Voima still gets the job done.

"For its age, this ship is in really good condition, the engines are in really good shape because they have had good regular maintenance. They have very few hours on them. They were installed in 1979," explains Chief Engineer Jarmo Tarkkanen.

"There haven't been any unnecessary computers added. Good old technology from the 50's and 60's works all the time," Alstela beams.

Awaiting a call

The Voima cast off after receiving orders from the Transport Agency to sail into the eastern Gulf of Finland.

"We're headed there to look over the situation and to be ready to give assistance if need. So far not many ships have needed assistance," explains Captain Toni Kovanen.

The Voima will be in service this winter and next winter, but what comes after that is yet to be seen. The State of Finland has just placed an order for a new icebreaker. One possible future for the Voima is a radical refitting and a new lease on life as an oil spill response vessel.

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