Otso departing from Helsinki in 2013.


One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row.

Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia.

The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu, Kemi, and Tornio.

 Although winter ice conditions have been milder and later than any time in recent memory, parts of the Bay of Bothnia are currently estimated to hold around 20cm of ice, necessitating the deployment of an icebreaker.

The ship once held the title of being the widest icebreaker in the world, with a beam width of just under 25 metres.

 Since her first deployment, Otso has been copied by engineers the world over, with the U.S. coastguard later basing their own icebreakers on her design.

Keen followers of icebreaker ships in Finland will be able to watch Otso dock in Oulu on Thursday 27 December.

Adam Oliver Smith - HT