conditions – a useful reminder
months ago, it looked like we were facing another mild winter with only limited
impact on the shipping industry. However, King Bore (a fairy tale character who
is believed to be the ruler of cold and northern winds) decided to show us what
a normal Finnish winter should look like. The sudden change in the outdoor
temperature speeded up the ice formation, and in just a few weeks we saw
ice-restrictions in practically all Finnish ports – a good reminder of why we
still have to base our fleet on ice classed tonnage.
At the same time
as the winter conditions have been slowing down the operations, our contract cargo
coverage have increased remarkably compared to last winter. Considering the
circumstances, we have managed to meet our contractual obligations fairly well,
thanks to a solid proactive operational work. A big thank you also goes to all
our customers who have showed flexibility and support for finding creative
solutions for the common best in these challenging circumstances.
spring is now progressing fast in the southern parts of Finland, winter
conditions and ice-restrictions will remain for still a while, especially in
the northern ports. Hence it´s
reasonable to predict that this year, the market for ice-classed vessels will
remain firm far beyond the Easter.
The last months
have indeed been a useful ”brush-up course” in winter trade, which I would say,
we passed with good grades. Although I guess we all welcome the spring and open
waters, we every now and then need these conditions to keep up our skills and
readiness, which makes us a reliable shipping partner all around the year.
Wishing you a
nice Easter holiday and a lovely springtime!
a few years’ break this year there’s quite a hard ice situation in the Northern
Baltic. For people ashore the cold and ice are welcome, but for ships hard
winter conditions mean many difficulties. One of our captains, Thord Vaenerberg
tells about winter operations at sea:
the winter everything becomes more difficult: the ice makes it difficult for
the ship to move and the slippery decks are a challenge for people. There’s
more work to do and operations take more time. Besides removing of ice and
snow, cleaning of the hold is challenging. Although it might be -20 degrees
outside, the hold needs to be washed and dried. To do this, the hold needs to
be warmed up and the hatches must be closed, but on the other hand moisture
should be evaporated out. Sometimes this seems impossible, but so far we have
always succeeded. Finns
are professionals in winter navigation, and this is clearly our strength at
wintertime, ships are also dependent on the icebreakers’ timetables. "We
have been lucky with m/v 'Eeva VG', we have had to wait for icebreaking
assistance only for some moments. Arriving at the pier is the slowest part. In
summertime, taking the ship alongside the pier takes about 5 to 10 minutes. In ice
it will easily take 2 – 3 hours to drive away the ice between the quay and the
ship. Sometimes tug assistance is needed."
grow in heavy ice. Ships are often forced to drive in a convoy because the lane
closes quickly. Collisions can happen more easily. A good example of that was
Aura’s collision last week. Dealing with facing traffic in the narrow lane is also
All in all The Captain is
very happy with his EcoCoaster vessel even during wintertime. An additional
power-take-in-system improves the ship's mobility in ice significantly. He is also grateful for the good cooperation with the Finnish icebreakers. But
luckily spring is almost here.
Introducing our staff: Safety&Quality Manager Thomas Friis, 44
When did you start at
During the early summer in 2015 when I was enjoying
summer holidays from my job as maritime teacher, I had discussion with the VG-Shipping
Management about the possibility to start working for VG-Shipping. Time
passed and on the warmest Friday in July, I was offered a position. After some arrangements I was then able to start working at VG-Shipping in September
What were you doing first?
My first position was Crewing Manager. The job kicked
off with an interesting first year, with two EcoCoasters being delivered in 2016.
These two ships increased the sea personnel with almost 30 seafarers. This was
a great opportunity to be involved in the HR process from the start, to build
up two new ships with a new and eager crew.
What are your duties now?
Now I work as Safety & Quality Manager since
December 2017. Safety & Quality is an area of the business that
requires a fair bit of learning for me. But I consider this a great opportunity
to develop myself simultaneously while developing the safety culture at
What do you like the most in
To work with all the people (office and ships) and to
feel that one’s work makes a difference.
Describe your career before
coming to Meriaura Group
My background is from the sea. I worked at various
vessels as an officer for about 11 years. First sailing worldwide on cruise
vessels before returning to local waters on passenger-car ferries. This gave me
a good experience that was useful when I started working as VTS-operator. To
monitor vessel traffic was not my cup of tea and I moved on quite quickly, and
soon I found myself as maritime teacher/lecturer at AboaMare. For four years I
was teaching before I started at VG-Shipping. I must admit I miss the long
summer holidays =)
Tell something about your
My family includes my wife Mikaela, and our two
children Edith (12) and Thor (10). And to make it even more fun we have two
dogs, a six-year-old Labrador and two years ago followed a Coton de Tuléar.
What do you like to do in your
A fair bit of my spare time we spend with the family
at our summer place in the archipelago. Otherwise I am keen on doing any sport
activity or being out in the nature hunting.