Built 2016, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage c. 10 000 GT
Length 110,00 m
Width 24,00 m
Draugth 8,00 m
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 21 000 kW
3 azipods (two stern, one bow)
Speed 16 knots
The Polaris is – or more accurately, will be – the first icebreaker built for Finland during the 21st century. Her genesis was somewhat complex: in 2012, the Finnish parliament allocated funds for the construction of a new icebreaker designed specifically for icebreaking on the Baltic Sea (instead of a multipurpose unit designed as a combination icebreaker-oil drilling supply vessel like the three Finnish icebreakers built during the 1990s), that would also be equipped as an oil spill combat vessel. Furthermore, it was decided that the new icebreaker would be owned by the Finnish Transport Agency (Liikennevirasto), with the idea that her operations could be tendered and thus the costs of icebreaking diminished from the current situation, where the state-owned Arctia Shipping holds a virtual monopoly in providing icebreakers. There were also claims the arrangement came about due to ideological reasons, as a means to stop the new icebreaker from being used as a support vessel for oil drilling in the arctic areas – at the time, the ministers in charge of state companies and transport were Heidi Hautala of the Green Party and Merja Kyllönen of the Left Alliance, respective, and both their parties were opposed to the use of Finnish ships in this use.
Regardless, in November 2013 Arctech Helsinki Shipyard was awarded the contract for building the new icebreaker. Then, just three days later, the contract was withdrawn, as it turned out the shipyard did not have nescessary during-construction funding. A second round of tenders was arranged, in which Arctech again emerged victorious in January 2014. Subsequently, political turmoil in the Finnish parliament resulted in both the Green Party and Left Alliance leaving the cabinet coalition during 2014. The duties of the ministers in charge of state companies and transport were now assured by Sirpa Paatero of the Social Democratic Party and Paula Risikko of the National Coalition, respectively. The new ministers decided that ownership of icebreakers was not a part of the Finnish Transport Agency's portfolio, and the Agency was adviced to seek a buyer for the under-construction icebreaker in early 2015. In March, an agreement was signed to sell the new icebreaker to Arctia Shipping immediately following delivery.
These complex machinations aside, the ship's keel was laid on 4 March 2015, which also happened to be 150th anniversary of the shipyard. She was named Polaris on 11 December 2015 by Paula Risikko (now the Second Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Finland). The name, a departure from both the tradition of giving icebreakers Finnish-language names and the -ica suffixed names of the multipurpose icebreakers, was chosen by public competition (personally, I suggested the traditional Finnish-language names Tarmo ["vigour"] and Murtaja ["breaker"], but apparently such names will not return). The ship was floated out on 3 January 2016 and will be delivered during the coming months.
The photographs below show the Polaris at the outfitting quay of Arctech Helsinki Shipyard on the afternoon of 9 January 2016 (yes, afternoon. You wouldn't believe how early it gets dark in Finland during the winter). Click on the images to see them in larger size.
|A close-up view. The asymmetric bridge means the ship needs less crew to operate her than would otherwise be the case.|
|Hey, I did include the promised Princess Anastasia in this entry, as that's her in the background.|