Possibilities for all-year navigation in Saimaa Canal and in the planned Kymijoki and Mäntyharju canals

Jorma Rytkönen, Juha Laasonen, Tapio Nyman, Timo Rekonen

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    Based on the studies on increasing the efficiency of winter navigation conducted in 1995-2000, it can be concluded that continuing inland navigation throughout the year can be realized with certain preconditions. The lake areas of the Saimaa deep-water channel are navigable in the winter season using vessels designed for winter navigation and with sufficient machine-power. As present experience on all-year traffic within the Saimaa shows, all-year navigation does not cause any major problems in southern Saimaa. On the other hand, navigation on Lake Kallavesi, Lake Haukivesi and Lake Pyhäselkä is difficult in hard winters. Dug earth canals will cause problems, especially if the canals are not built deep enough. Winter traffic significantly increases the amount of ice in channels. The use of conventional vessels requires, therefore, the use of icebreakers practically every winter. Based on the model tests conducted, new generation DAS vessels are capable of operating also in canals filled with thick ice mash up to a 10-meter channel ice thickness. Winter navigation in the locks and in canals can be facilitated through various methods of controlling the ice. Winter navigation can be facilitated significantly by conducting waste heat and lost heat from industrial plants into problem areas. This speeds up the traffic in mild and normal winters and ensures the fluency of traffic in hard winters. The cross-section of the canal and the structures also need not be dimensioned according to the hardest conditions, saving money when implementing the project. Besides winter navigability of the Saimaa Canal, possibilities for winter navigation in the planned Kymijoki and Mäntyharju canals were also studied. Ice conditions in the Mäntyharju canal would be quite similar to those in the Saimaa Canal. In Kymijoki, there is uncertainty in winter navigation because of still-water passages, the drifting of ice with the current and a possible risk of ice dam formation. In the Mäntyharju canal routing, there is uncertainty of the adequacy of water in the planned routing, which is why pumping stations are planned in connection with the locks. The canal routing has also been changed because of the studies conducted. Environmental issues have, for example, been considered more carefully. The distance from Saimaa to the sea is approximately 50 km via the Saimaa Canal. There are eight locks, one of which would no longer be needed should the canal be expanded as planned. The distance from Saimaa to the sea via the Kymijoki and Mäntyharju canals is approximately 200 km and includes a total of 13 locks. Based on the distance and the number of locks, transportation of goods from inland areas to the sea would seem to go faster via the Saimaa Canal. Organizing inland winter navigation also requires inland vessel traffic in the Gulf of Finland and in the Baltic Sea. Ice conditions and possibilities for icebreaking are, at the moment, considered to be better outside Kotka than outside the Vyborg Bay. Hummocked ice blocks outside the fast ice zone are also known to be difficult in the Vyborg Bay, but they may be difficult to pass through even in places where ships approach the coastal route protected by islands from open sea. With more efficient icebreaker assistance, traffic would also be possible to organize in the Vyborg Bay. When considering the economy of transportation in both choices of canals, the fact that the majority of all-year navigation transportation will in any case take place during the open water season should also be taken into account.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages29
    Publication statusPublished - 2000
    MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Manufacturing Technology. Research Report


    • inland navigation
    • winter navigation
    • Saimaa Canal
    • waterway planning


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