Decarbonizing shipping in ice by intelligent icebreaking assistance: A case study of the Finnish-Swedish winter navigation system

Aleksander A. Kondratenko, Ketki Kulkarni*, Fang Li, Mashrura Musharraf, Spyros Hirdaris, Pentti Kujala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Ice often complicates shipping in extremely cold regions, leading to energy-consuming, expensive transportation. Ship performance can be significantly improved with icebreaking assistance that uses specialized ships called icebreakers to create navigable pathways in ice fields. Icebreakers are a critical and expensive resource with high energy consumption that must be judiciously utilized for efficient traffic flow. Optimizing icebreaker usage requires careful consideration of multiple factors related to weather, ships, and regulations. The existing decision support tools for icebreaker management primarily aim to minimize the total waiting time of ships, which may result in allocation of excess icebreakers. The paper presents a novel simulation-based approach for decarbonizing shipping in ice by intelligent icebreaking assistance. The proposed approach optimizes icebreaker assistance for both eco- and cost efficiency, allowing for more sustainable icebreaking policies. A case study representing a simplified configuration of the Finnish-Swedish Winter Navigation System demonstrates this approach to come up with alternate operating strategies that can significantly improve the emission and/or cost (e.g., up to 7 percent less greenhouse gas emission or up to 14.2% lower costs). Results show that the proposed approach is promising, for providing recommendations on environmental and economic policies to decarbonize the Finnish-Swedish icebreaking assistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115652
Peer-reviewed scientific journalOcean Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 15.10.2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 214 Mechanical engineering
  • Baltic sea
  • Decarbonization
  • Discrete-event simulation
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Icebreakers
  • Maritime transport
  • Sustainability


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