Certified ice navigation training available in Finland

Winter conditions in the Baltic sea will remain harsh for at least the next 50 years despite the effects of global warming.
The first internationally targeted ICETRAIN-course was held in Finland at the beginning of October 2007. The three-day ice-navigation training is geared toward masters and officers who operate their vessels through the Baltic during winter season. The goal is to reduce the risks of winter navigation and to ensure safe operations even in severe ice conditions.

International crews from warmer climates benefit from the ice navigation training in many ways. By providing training for crews with inadequate experience of operating in ice, the risks of vessel damage, time delays and more severe accidents are significantly reduced.

The emphasis of the course is on ice navigation and simulator training. In addition, the course deals with icebreaker operations and assistance, management and legislative issues, cargo handling, the effects of icing and ice build-up rate, ice related services and, finally, survival and occupational safety. The participants will learn the basic methods to maintain the ship in an operable condition, reduce costs and save time. The accreditation by Germanischer Lloyd guarantees that the course meets the standards for maritime training set by the IMO, International Maritime Organization.

Marine traffic in the Baltic is heavily increasing. The number of oil carriers navigated by crews with no experience in ice navigation is growing fast. The risk of a severe oil disaster at the Gulf of Finland is expected to double by the year 2010. A significant factor affecting the risk growth is the crews’ lack of training or experience in ice navigation.
According to the statistics of Finnish Maritime Administration every tenth vessel calling the Baltic ports in winter period suffers damages and most hazards are due to human error. Even during mild winter conditions there were several significant accidents in winters 2005-2007, e.g. sinking of an oil tanker with a massive leakage of oil to the environment.

ICETRAIN has been designed by Finnish organisations representing different fields of ice navigation. Persons by name, from left to right: Leif Baarman, Atso Uusiaho, Gustav Lindqvist, Suvi-Tuuli Lappalainen, Matti Nuuttila and Seppo Liukkonen.