Special missions create headaches for Finnish state-owned icebreakers

things apparently also don’t look too good for Shell’s partner Arctia Shipping, who provided the icebreakers Fennica & Nordica in 2012 when they went drilling off Alaska.

[B]Special missions create headaches for state-owned icebreakers[/B]

The state-owned icebreaker company Arctia Shipping has been found guilty of violating marine safety regulations, according to the traffic safety watchdog Trafi. The shipping company’s icebreakers Nordica and Fennica were found to have taken on board more than the permitted number of external crew members during special missions. Now Trafi wants the vessels re-inspected and re-classified as specialist ships.

Arctia Shipping’s multi-purpose vessels have been deployed on a number of missions outside of their icebreaking remit – they have been used as support ships for oil exploration missions for many years. In many cases the oil exploration missions have proven to be a highly lucrative seam of business for the state-owned company. These extraordinary missions have seen the ships carrying a number of external specialists in addition to their own crews.

According to the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi, Nordica and Fennica have been inspected and registered as cargo ships, and according to marine safety laws are allowed to take a maximum of 12 specialist passengers on board.

Earlier this autumn Trafi asked the shipping company Arctia to indicate whether or not the vessels had exceeded the maximum number of guests permitted. According to the report submitted by the shipping company, the limit had been broken on many occasions.

“Depending on what they have been doing the ships have had between 20 and 30 specialists on board,” said Trafi director of inspections Juha-Matti Korsi.

Charges considered but waivedAccording to Korsi marine safety legislation determines the status of different vessels.

“The law clearly states that only a special vessel can execute special missions. We believe that this section has been contravened,” Korsi added.

The traffic safety authority weighed taking the matter to prosecutors for consideration of criminal charges. However it decided against such a move because it concluded that there was no danger posed to personal safety or the marine environment.

However the supervisory body has rapped the state-owned company over the knuckles because of the infringements. According to Trafi, if Arctia Shipping intends to use the Nordica and Fennica for special missions, the vessels would have to be re-inspected and re-classified as specialty vessels. However this would require the owners to modify the ships to bring their safety systems up to scratch.

“They would need to make their sliding doors water tight and remote-controlled and changes would have to be made to the drainage systems,” Korsi explained.

Arctia Shipping told Yle that it intends to comply with the Trafi’s recommendations, but offered no further comment on the matter.