Winter Navigation Motorways Of The Sea

The basic idea behind the WINMOS project dates back to the early sixties.  Since the cooperation agreement within icebreaking, the “Nordic Agreement”, was signed by Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden in 1963, a continuous development and adaption of the winter navigation system in the Baltic Sea has been on-going. The benefits of cooperation were obvious to all partners already fifty years ago and that is why the cooperation between the Nordic countries has been going on ever since. Some years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, efforts was made to increase the cooperation within winter navigation between all Baltic Sea nations.  The Motorways of the Sea (MoS) concept facilitated further development of cooperation between the Baltic Sea Nations’ Icebreaking services. A forum for development of cooperation, Baltic Icebreaking Management (BIM), was established by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden in 2003. BIM performed a joint project between years 2004 and 2007 (co-funded by TEN-T) consisting of activities described below, aiming at development and enhanced cooperation within winter navigation.

  • A joint website (www.baltice.org) was established where required winter navigation information from the whole Baltic Sea is available free of charge.
  • An instruction movie, for inexperienced ship officers, was produced and is available for down loading from the website free of charge.
  • A study on icebreaker concept designed for assistance of large crude carriers was performed.
  • A study on icebreaking solutions for high frequent lines was done.
  • An assessment report of current and predicted future maritime traffic pattern, called Baltic Maritime Outlook 2006, was delivered.

Also harmonisation of the ice class rules, which was carried out within the frame of HELCOM in 2003, was done in order to facilitate further cooperation between the Baltic Sea states’ icebreaking services. The above described actions contributed to improve winter navigation in the Baltic Sea but more actions are needed in order to adapt to the rapidly and continuously changing traffic pattern and to ensure a positive development of maritime transports during winter time. The importance of continued development of the winter navigation system is demonstrated by the fact that WINMOS has by The International Steering Committee for Priority Area 13 (maritime safety and security) been appointed as a Flagship Project within the European Union’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSBSR. Functional maritime transports all-year-around is of the utmost importance for the trade within the European Union. 15% of the world’s maritime transportation, or more than 750 million tonnes, is performed in the Baltic Sea. Around 2,000 vessels are on their way in the area at any given time. The sea ice causes huge problems for transport and trade. During a normal winter, there are about 10,000 calls to ports which have ice-obstacles. The situation in the world is continuously changing. Increasing size and number of vessels; rising fuel prices together with demands for measures to improve environmental performance, e.g. the SECA-directive concerning content of sulphur in fuel and the Energy Efficiency Design Index where maximum engine power is regulated, will all have a significant impact on the winter navigation system. The main objectives of the WINMOS project are to develop the maritime winter navigation system and safeguard required icebreaking recourses to the future requirements in EU’s northernmost waters during winter time when large parts of the sea surface are covered by sea ice. The project aims to ensure sustainable efficient maritime transports all year round and mitigate the barrier-effect caused by the sea ice by:

  • Foreseeing possible changes in the future and analysing the impact on the winter navigation system and the requirements for icebreaking capacity;
  • Working out proposals for different concepts and designs of icebreakers and composition of the icebreaker fleet that meet industrial and environmental demands on maritime transports;
  • Reducing emissions from existing icebreakers;
  • Modernisation of the existing Finnish-Swedish Icebreaking Management System, IBNet, and improving the accessibility to the information for all relevant stakeholders within maritime shipping;
  • Developing training methods for navigation in sea ice; and
  • Ensuring sufficient icebreaking resources.

The long term vision is a joint Baltic Sea Icebreaking Service where the European Union and Russia cooperate within a joint winter navigation system. WINMOS is a Swedish, Finnish, Estonian project which is co-financed by the European Commission.  The total budget of the project is 139 million euro and the contribution from TEN-T’s Motorways of the Sea (MoS) budget is 29,6 million euro.  The project consists of seven different activities:

  • Activity 1 – Study on future demand for icebreaking capacity;
  • Activity 2 – Concept study on next generation icebreakers;
  • Activity 3 – Improvement of environmental performance;
  • Activity 4 – Development of the Icebreaking Management Network, IBNet;
  • Activity 5 – Human element and training facilities;
  • Activity 6 – Technical upgrading and life extension of the icebreakers; and
  • Activity 7 – Acquisition of a new icebreaker.

The implementation period of Action ended 31 December 2015.