A multifunctional ship to tackle marine pollution in Estonia

A multifunctional ship has been procured for Estonia to deal with incidents of marine pollution in Estonian waters and other parts of Baltic Sea.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

The ship, which will help Estonia to meet its obligations under the Helsinki Commission (HelCom), is capable, under normal conditions, of removing the source of marine pollution within 48 hours. Under the care of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, it also monitors and supervises the marine environment, helping to prevent potential disasters.

Addressing the risk of oil spill

Estonian ports and others in the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea are heavily involved in the trans-shipping of oil and oil products, making them particularly vulnerable to the occurrence of major oil spills. In fact, Estonian authorities have calculated that an oil spill is the most probable and expensive environmental emergency that could currently occur.

As such, HelCom, which works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from pollution, set targets for increasing the capacity of Baltic Sea countries to deal with oil spills. However, Estonia was unable to meet these targets and therefore sought assistance to procure a new multi-functional ship.

The new ship, which measures 64 metres long and 10.2 metres wide and is equipped with 2 000 metres of marine barriers, will be able to tackle 0.6 km2 of marine pollution in a 12 hour period.

Rapid response to reduce costs and damage

The building contract was signed with ‘Uudenkaupungin Työvene OY' of Finland in April 2010 and the ship was successfully launched in April 2011. It is now ‘on call’ to react to emergencies in Estonian waters or in other parts of the Baltic Sea, allowing crews to respond and intervene before waves carry oil to the shore, greatly reducing the costs and damage.

In the event of an alert, the ship will be ready to leave from the harbour to the marine pollution area within two hours, be at the pollution area within six hours and start remediation works within 12 hours. This means that under normal conditions the marine pollution should be removed within 48 hours.

As the ship is multi-functional, it can also take a ‘supervisory’ role, carrying out prevention and monitoring duties at sea. The mere sight of this highly visible ship will encourage vessels to adhere to environmental regulations and wilful marine pollution will decrease.

The purchase of the ship will see Estonia’s capacity to tackle marine pollution rise to 26% of HelCom requirements.


Draft date

19/08/2011