Lintumetsä Secondary School Comenius Project


                                                                            8 E visits icebreaker Apu

                                  The Baltic Sea in the winter

In the winters it is difficult for ships to get into the harbours of Finland, Sweden and Russia, because the Baltic Sea is sometimes covered with ice.

All the countries have to use icebreakers, otherwise ships wouldn’t be able to sail in the Baltic Sea. Before icebreakers were used Finland was nearly detached from the rest of Europe. Mail was carried from Åland to Stockholm. Also ice roads were used. That’s not possible today, because of winter navigation.

In the 18th century ice was a real economic problem and people started to think of the possibilities for winter navigation. Regular "ship traffic" from Stockholm to Hanko was started in 1878.

Finland got its first ice breaker in 1890. It was built in Sweden and it was called "The Breaker". "The Breaker" guaranteed the export trade to England and Central Europe. Now Turku also had a connection with Stockholm. In the winter 1971-1972 navigation round the year was started. All of the winter harbours of Finland were used round the year. All the ships which are used in winter in the Baltic Sea have to have icestrenghtening in their frame and bow. You need accurate ice information to be able to direct ships to the right harbours. That’s why every country in the Baltic Sea area has their own ice service. The ice service department of the Marine Research Institute gives daily up-to-date and accurate ice information. Sweden and Finland work in close icebreaker collaboration, all the ships seem to be in the same navy. The whole Baltic Sea is such a delicate sea-area that if there is an oilspill, it takes a long time for the ecosystem to recover. If an oilspill takes place in the winter it is nearly impossible to collect the oil from the ice. On top of everything else the oil decomposes slowly in the cold and it also spreads widely with the moving ice.

Paula Walle ja Eveliina Väkevä



A couple of weeks ago, our class went to see a Finnish icebreaker. There were six icebreakers at Helsinki port and APU was one of them. As we went inside the ship, the first officer divided us into 3 groups. At the beginning everyone was excited. First my group went to the engine room. There were four massive engines, which wouldn’t even break as they hit the ice. Everyone seemed to be amazed when they saw the engines. The engine room was very interesting.

The next thing for us was to see the kitchen and some free time areas on the ship. There was also a gym where the crew could tone up their muscles. A few of us also tried lifting the weights. After the gym all of us wanted to see more of the ship.

The next step was the bridge. Some of us knew more about navigation and the ships systems than others. It didn’t matter because we learnt a bit and still everyone was equally interested. After seeing the bridge everyone wanted to step outside to have some fresh air. The deck was the last thing to see, before we left the ship. I think most of us liked the trip.

Lauri Lahtinen 8E


The strictness of an ice winter

The ice service categorizes winters into five strictness classes: very mild, mild, average, strict and very strict. The days when there is much ice, they count the places, where there’s ice. The area orders the strictness of the winter. You have to notice, that mild winter isn’t always easy for navigation and strict winter isn’t always very hard.

In winters like this, the windy mild episodes make the ice move and pack. The weak winded coldspells add the ice that sails on the edge of other big icerafts making traffic routes difficult to sail in.

The ice of the Baltic sea effects Finland’s, Sweden’s, Russian’s, Estonia’s and Latvia’s navigation, even if the winter is just mild. When the winters are strict like in 1986, the ice affects other Baltic sea countries as well

Meri 8E


Icebrakers Voima and Apu

The oldest ships in the Finstaship fleet are Voima and Apu. They represent tradional icebreaker technology, which is based on fourpropellertechnology and massive framework. The ships have serviced well and they have shown that they work very well in Finnish circumstances. These ships are still in operation. The 50-year-old Voima is older than Apu. When Voima was young it was called a giant icebreaker, because it was considered unnecessarily big. It was renovated in 1979, when it was repaired totally. Both ships have been in topshape and they are still in operation.

The command bridge facilities and communication equipment have been modernized many times.


Voima and Apu

                                           Length: 83,5m /86,5m

                                           Beam: 19,4m /21,3m

                                           Draught:7,0m /7,2m

                                           Year of Manufacture: 1979 /1970

                                           Output: 10,2 MW/ 9,2 MW

                                           Speed in:

                                           Operation: approx 16 knop/ approx 18 knop

                                           Bullard pull: approx 113t /approx 125t

Toni Karppinen 8E





 Photographs: Timo Peuraniemi

The crew of the icebreaker must always be watchful. The whole crew knows what to do if something goes wrong. Icebreaker can travel even long ways to save boats and ships. An icebreaker is really big. Everyone has a bed of his own and there’s even a sauna and a gym. The one that we visited was called APU and it was very old. Many walls inside the ship were made of wood. Working there can sometimes be very lonely because you can’t take your family with you. When the icebreaker is on the move you’re not allowed to use the internet because it’s expensive. There are both women and men working aboard the icebreaker. APU has four motors and because of that it can be very fast. There’s also a kitchen on the icebreaker. You are most definitely not allowed to be drunk! Once one of the motors broke. There are rescueboats on the icebreaker in case the icebreaker would sink. But that’s very unlikely.


           Nina Hammarberg and Pasi Lehtinen 8E



A day on an icebreaker

On Tuesday 22. November our class visited an icebreaker called Apu, which means "Help" in English. There were six icebreakers and Apu was one of them. Apu is the oldest icebreaker. The captain of Apu divided our class into three groups. First our group went down to the engine room. I was excited because I am interested in engines. There were four huge engines which would survive even through the hardest ice. Then we went to see the cabins. The cabins were little but cozy. After that we went to see the free time area and the kitchen. There was also a gym there. The boys were excited because many of them had tried weight lifting. Then our group went to the bridge. It was very interesting because everybody wanted to know how all the equipment worked. Then we went to the deck. The deck was the last place where our group went. I think it was a very interesting trip.

Toni Varis 8E

On an Icebreaker

The icebreaker was like a floating house. It had everything possible inside it: gym, sauna, kitchen, lots of living rooms and bedrooms, "café", command bridge, deck, engine rooms, "repairing rooms" and smoking rooms. The crew was quite nice and the captain seemed to be very influential. Most of them were men but there were some women too. The crew kept contact on each other by walkie-talkies. The icebreaker was pretty clean inside. It was comfortable but I couldn’t spend over 10 days in there. The level of comfort went up as we went up on the floors because the engine rooms and smoking rooms were down stairs and the command bridge upstairs.

Tuomas Rissanen 8E


Every year the ports of Finland and the Gulf of Finland freezes almost totally. The ice conditions depend on the temperature of the water and the air. Trade ships are not strong enough to move in thick ice. We need icebreakers to keep the passages open. In 2002 more than 14 000 vessels visited our ports, in winter.

In its current form, icebreaking along the Finnish coast line dates back to 1890. Nowadays Finstaship has one of the most powerful icebreaker fleet in the world. There are also three multipurpose icebreakers and six conventional icebreakers. Finstaship is currently the only shipping enterprise to provide comprehensive icebreaking services in Finnish waters with its own icebreakers.

Icebreaking services include much more than only keeping the passages open. Assistance, towing, securing vessel traffic safety and traffic control of vessels are also integrated in the job of the icebreakers. Other support services include cooperation with port authorities, charterers and the VTS and SRS stations and pilots. Icebreakers also make reports about the ice conditions and send them to the Ice Service Unit in Finland and Sweden.

Ice Breakers of Finland keep these main passages open during the winter:

● The northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia

● The Southern Part of the Gulf of Bothnia

● The Gulf of Finland

Antti Pennanen 8E



Ice in the Baltic Sea

There are very changing iceconditions in the Baltic Sea. The icecover changes from 52 000 km2 to 422 000 km2 which means 12-100 percent of the Baltic Sea, Kattegatt, Skagerrak area. On average the ice covers an area of 218 000 km2. The icecover is at its most extensive at the beginning of January and March.

The Bothian Bay and Eastern Suomenlahti freezes every year.

Once in a decade there is a situation where only a small area of the Southern Baltic Sea stays iceless. The freezing of the Baltic Sea starts from the Northern parts of the Bothnian Bay, and from the bottom of Suomenlahti in October or November. Merenkurkku, the whole Bothian Bay and the costal areas of Selkämeri freeze. In average winters Selkämeri, Saaristomeri, Suomenlahti and part of the Northern Baltic Sea are frozen. In mild winters, the Selkämeri doesn’t freeze at all, and only some parts of Suomenlahti freeze. Occasionally the freezing goes on to the straits of Denmark and to the real Baltic Sea. The Northeastern sea areas of Bornholm are the last to freeze.

It is impossible to forecast the amount of ice at the beginning of the winter. It is impossible to tell the coldness of the winter at the beginning of the winter. It’s not until the end of January that you can get a very reliable forecast.

The ice starts to melt in April

The melting of the ices goes on from South to North. The Northern Baltic Sea opens at the beginning of April. Until the beginning of May there is still ice on the Bothian Bay, where the rest of the ice melts at the beginning of June. The average icewinter in the northern Baltic Sea lasts less than 20 days. In the northern parts of Bothian Bay there is icecover for half of the year.


Sari Lindström ja Ines Masanti 8E