The Freeport of Riga is ready for winter and ice navigation

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Foto: J. Saliņš

According to the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers winter navigation in all Latvian ports begins on the 15th of December and ends on the 15th of April. The decision on ice navigation opening at the Port of Riga and the Gulf of Riga, as well as on the necessity to employ icebreakers is adopted by the Harbour Master of the Riga port, on the basis of operational situation at the port and the bay. According to the Freeport Harbour Master Arturs Brokovskis - Vaivods, sea trial of the SIA “Rīgas brīvostas flote” icebreakers "Varma" and "Foros", operating at the Port of Riga, took place last week. On the basis of the at-sea test results, as well as on information from the Freeport office, the Harbour Master is confident that the Riga Port is fully prepared for winter and ice navigation.

Winter navigation in Latvia is beginning on the 15th of December, that means that ship-owners by this time are obliged to prepare the vessels for safe navigation at low temperatures. There should be the appropriate equipment on board to free the hull from icing. The greatest threat to the ships during the winter is an ice layer on the hull, formed due to low air temperature, wind and splashes, it has an impact on the stability of the vessel and the vessel may even turn over. The Freeport Harbour Master Arturs Brokovskis - Vaivods: “The floating craft of the port of Riga is ready for winter navigation, but most importantly, approaching winter season, we must be ready for the difficult ice navigation conditions.”

Icebreaking at the port of Riga and the Gulf of Riga and up to the Irbe Strait or the   Kolka Rags is provided by SIA “Rīgas brīvostas flote” icebreakers “Varma” and “Foros”. Last week sea trials of both icebreakers was performed and the Freeport Harbour Master was informed of the icebreakers’ full technical readiness for ice navigation. Latvian Maritime academy students also took part in the sea trials with the aim to get acquainted with icebreakers’ operation, their technical capabilities as well as ice navigation peculiarities at the Port of Riga and the Gulf of Riga.

Mr.Arturs Brokovskis - Vaivods: “Within the very Riga port water area the icebreaking services are needed only rarely. Due to permanent maritime traffic there is practically no  thick ice layer, besides, the tugs,  operating at the Riga Port,  are suitable for ice conditions and parallel to traditional tugging they can be engaged in ice-breaking. The Freeport of Riga Authority mainly provides icebreaking services at the Irbe Strait and the Gulf of Riga to help ships take the road to the port of Riga, in compliance with the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers “Regulations on the Procedure of the Latvian Waters Use and Navigation Regime Thereof”. Ice navigation conditions, season length and icebreakers workload at the Gulf of Riga are very difficult to predict, they   depend not only on low temperatures, but also the wind direction and other conditions.”