Sunday, 8 September 2013

Finlands fleet of icebreakers waiting for the winter to arrive

This summer we have enjoyed fine weather most of the time here in northern Europe. But, whether you like it or not, the long and chilly winter months are not far away. I got a reminder of this fact in Helsinki last week, when I watched Finland's mighty fleet of icebreakers "basking" in the warm early September sun. I presume that most of  the crews are already busy making their ships ready for the icy winter months ...

In their excellent little book "Winter in Finland" (Hugh Evelyn Limited, 1967) W.R. Mead and Helmer Smeds summarize the country's struggle with ice:

"A central fact in Finland's struggle with winter is the freezing of the Baltic Sea. The most striking feature of the struggle has been Finland's gradual success in overcoming the seasonal interruption of overseas communications. There have been three stages in the struggle - passive acceptance, active resistance and positive assault. These are a reflection of technical equipment. AT the same time a pragmatic approach to the problem of interruption has changed to a wholly scientific attitude. The constraints of winter ice have been broken with the aid of three technical innovations - the application of s team and internal combustion to sea-going shipping, the employment of steel plating for ships' hulls, and the use of telegraphic and radio communications. The first two have been combined in the construction of ice-breakers and ice-strengthened ships; the third has enabled the rapid assembly of information for synoptic ice charts and the forecasting of weather conditions."

I added a picture of the Finnish Boarder Guard's patrol vessel Merikarhu, which was moored right at the side of the icebreakers.

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