Saturday, 10 September 2011

The building of the Finnish icebreaker Jääkarhu according to the Dutch newspapers in 1925-1926

With thanks to Gollevainen

The Dutch magazine De Prins dated 23 January 1926 page 44 published the photo below during her trial in the Koningshaven.

The Dutch newspaper Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant evening edition dated 26 August 1925 published the following news item. The icebreaker Jääkarhu was that morning launched from the yard of the N.V. Machinefabriek en Scheepswerf of P. Smit jr. in the presence of a large public including the Finnish government representative chef of the department for shipping baron Wrede, the Finnish chargé d’ affaires Yrjö Saastamoinen with spouse, the Finnish secretary of the ambassador Arne Sohlman, the Finnish consul general, authorities from the Dutch government and Dutch merchant trade shipping and yards and members of the Netherlands-Finland association. The icebreaker was sponsored by Mrs. Saastamoinen while her man made a speech. He told that 23 world known shipyards from England, Finland, Netherlands and Sweden did everything to obtain the building of the ship. Despite the fact that Finland possessed the most icebreakers and experience was this yard from the beginning the best again despite the fact that she wasn’t the cheapest and that the Netherlands were lacking the experience of building such a large icebreaker. Her main dimensions were75 (waterline)-78,45 x 18,50 (waterline)-19,20 (maximum) x 6,40metres and a hold of 9,70metres. She was fitted out with 3 triple expansion engines each of normal 2,500hp, total horsepower was standard 7,500 and maximum 9,000 hp. One of the three engines was placed in the fore ship and especially  to drive the screw to break the ice and rive it away. There were 8 steam boilers each of 288 M2, totally 2,305M2 heating surface. She was oil-fired and had a bunker capacity of 1,200 tons oil. Her destination was to keep the Finnish harbours in the winter ice free. The pack ice could be 10metres thick in the months February-March. The icebreaker rammed deliberately with the fore ship the ice with the screw in the fore ship breaking the ice and the fore ship lowering in the water through the ice pack. She then steamed backwards a few hundred meters and rammed again with a considerable speed the ice and forcing in this manner a 60 feet broad channel. When she stuck in the ice and could not be freed by her 3 engines could special pumps be used which were able to transport within 5 minutes 100 tons of water from the fore ship to the back ship or reverse. Special tanks placed along the inner sides of the ship could be filled with water to obtain within 10 minutes 5 degrees inclination. The ice belt had plates with a thickness of 1 1/8”(28cm). Her three screws were made of nickel steel and weighted each 12 tons. The rudder was made of one piece cast steel and had a weight of 9 tons.

The same newspaper morning edition dated Sunday, 17 January 1926 published again a item dealing with the ship. Except for the earlier published details new information was supplied. Her crew consisted of around 60 men including the master, 3 officers, a chief engineer and 3 second engineers. On deck was a saloon with adjoining the sitting- and bedroom of the master and the so-called board chamber all timbered by the firm Pander with Java teak. In the saloon was a tile plateau placed manufactured by the Dutch firm Porceleine Fles of Delft representing a painting of Mesdag and which was a gift of the Netherlands-Finland Association. The cabins for the crew were mostly quite large and timbered with white oak. The study of the engineers was placed on the boat deck. She was armed with 6 inch and two 3 inch guns, the latter being anti aircraft guns. Her ammunition chamber and ammunition transport system was similar to that of the Dutch cruiser Hr. Ms. Java. It was intended to make that day again a trial hoping with more success than the first one when a anchor stuck in a air hole near the lightship. The intention was than to depart as soon as possible to Finland. The newspaper Tilburgsche Courant dated Thursday 4 March 1926 reported that she day before was handed over by the yard. Around 18.00 o’clock was the Finnish flag hoisted and she departed 19.15 o’clock to her new destination.

1. The building of this ship even resulted in a strike caused by the terms of employment (regular wages versus overtime). See for instance the newspaper Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant evening edition dated 24 October 1925. Other Dutch newspapers supplied similar information about the strike and building of the icebreaker. See for instance Het Centrum dated 24 December 1925. Built in the Netherlands at the Machinefabriek en Scheepswerf P. Smit jr. at Rotterdam in 1924-1926 for SEEF. AMT of Helsingborg with building number 350 and dimensions 75,00 x 19,20 x 9,70 metres. The yard asked the government for a subsidy of ƒ 175,000 while the tender she has done in 1923 for the building was to high compared with six other yards. Afraid for loosing jobs the government agreed to pay if the town council of Rotterdam paid the half. After a meeting which take the whole afternoon and evening the town council agreed with 29 votes fore and 13 against. The contract was signed of 17 April 1924 and the yard accepted that the Finnish paid just ƒ 1,563,00 and the Dutch government+town council another ƒ 175,000.