Otso Icebreaker: Sleek Design and Advanced Technology Enhance Ice-Breaking Capacity

Otso Icebreaker: Due to its geographical location, Finland presents a significant obstacle to ships wishing to enter its harbor facilities in the winter. Thus, icebreakers play a crucial role in the country’s marine affairs by enabling continuous shipping operations.

Specifications of Otso icebreaker

Year of build 1986  /  Age: 38
Flag state  Finland
Builder Wartsila Helsinki Shipyard (Helsinki, Finland)
Ferry route/ homeports Helsinki
Building cost FIM 235 million
Engines (power) Wartsila (23 MW / 30844 hp)
Propulsion power 16.7 MW / 22395 hp
Speed 19 kn / 35 km/h / 22 mph
Length (LOA) 99 m / 325 ft
Beam (width) 24 m / 79 ft
Gross Tonnage 7066 gt
Passengers 12
Crew 23
Decks 8
Decks with cabins 2
Last Refurbishment 2015
Sister-ships Kontio icebreaker
Owner Arctia Oy
Operator Arctia Icebreaking Oy

History of Otso icebreaker

On March 19, 1984, MS Otso was ordered at a shipbuilding cost of FIM 235 million. Launched on July 12, 1985, the vessel (hull/yard number 472) was turned over to the Finnish Maritime Administration on January 30, 1986.
With the Karhu class of icebreakers acquiring enormous fame in the nautical industry for their operational efficiency, the history of sophisticated and famous ice-breaking vessels in Finland dates back to the mid-20th century. But the Otso icebreaker ship, which combined high fuel consumption sustainability with operating efficiency, was the one that completely changed the idea of icebreaking in Finland.

Otso icebreaker
(Credit: Wikipedia)

The word “bear,” or “otso” in Finnish, denotes an animal that is highly revered in Finnish customs and culture. As distinct as its name is, the vessel’s technological specifications are similarly one-of-a-kind. These technological highlights include the following list:

  • Completely revamping the electrical system to use an Alternate Current (AC) system instead of Direct Current (DC)

  • Installation of four diesel engines, each generating about 5,500 kilowatts (KW)

  • Modifying the conventional propelling system to a cyclo-converter system to improve propulsion

  • Designed to prevent erosion while breaking ice

  • Positioning fuel tanks midship to prevent damage to marine ecology in case of an accident

  • A sleek structure with smaller dimensions than earlier ice-breakers, enhancing its ice-breaking abilities

  • Automated navigation systems have cut crewing personnel onboard by a lot

sleek design and reduced size compared to previous icebreaker ships to improve the ship’s capacity to break ice
automated navigational devices that have significantly decreased the number of crew members on board the ship
Otso has a length of about 100 meters, a width of just over 24 meters, and a draught of eight meters. The most notable aspect of Otso’s technical specs, however, is its speed, which enables the ship to conduct deeper ice-breaking operations than previous ice-breaker vessel types.

A year after Otso was placed into service, the Finnish maritime authority began operating the second icebreaker classified as Otso. The icebreaker ship, named Kontio, was built to specs comparable to those of the Otso. These days, the main icebreaker vessels tasked with conducting extensive operations close to the main harbors in Finland are the Otso and the Kontio.

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