Operating in icy conditions safely with Valmet’s automation system

Dec 15, 2017

Only state-of-the-art icebreakers create a sense of confidence when operating in the offshore oil and gas field of Arkutun-Dagi, Sakhalin-1. When breaking thick ice and taking cargo to the oil field in harsh conditions, operating in demanding oil spill recovery action or firefighting, the automation system must offer the highest level of reliability and availability to enable a vessel to successfully carry out its key mission. To assure high performance, the Vitus Bering icebreaker is equipped with Valmet DNA automation system.

Arctic players

Arctech Helsinki Shipyard is specialized in shipbuilding technology and has a long history in building arctic vessels. Roughly 60% of the icebreakers in operation around the world have been delivered from Helsinki Shipyard. In 2010, the shipyard signed a contract with the Russian customer Sovcomflot to deliver two new icebreaking supply vessels. Sovcomflot is Russia’s largest shipping company and one of the world’s leading energy transporters.

Both vessels will operate in the Arkutun-Dagi oil and gas field for Exxon Neftegas Limited’s platform in Far East Russia, and both vessels will rely on Valmet’s automation solutions.

Four months ahead of schedule

The first of the icebreaking supply vessels, the Vitus Bering, was delivered to the customer in the end of December 2012, four months ahead of schedule. According to Sovcomflot, the vessel is designed in compliance with all rules, standards and requirements of international conventions. Sovcomflot states that it wants to ensure ecological safety in the waters of the Far Eastern seas, which has become especially important in light of tightening regulations on environmental protection.

“Good planning is crucial and aligns the whole team toward a common goal,” says Unto Ryynänen, Project Coordinator of Electrical Design atArctech Helsinki Shipyard. Finishing ahead of schedule is evidence of seamless cooperation with all suppliers and good project management from Arctech Helsinki Shipyard.

Multipurpose vessel

Vitus Bering is an impressive sight on the sea. The vessel is 99.9 meters long, 21.7 meters wide, has eight decks and a large cargo deck. Four diesel generators can produce a total power output of 18MW. The maximum propulsion power is 13MW.

Unto Ryynänen is mainly responsible for electrical basic and working drawing design as the head of his team. He explains: “The vessel is versatile indeed. It is able to break the ice around the platform. It transports cargo to the oil rig, provides services like ocean towing and is able to help in operations related to oil spill recovery. The vessel is treated with fire protecting substances and can operate as rescue vessel during possible evacuation situations.”

Vitus Bering is designed for extreme environmental conditions. In the Sakhalin area, winter temperatures can reach -44 °C. Waves can be up to 10 meters high and the sea ice up to 2 meters thick.

Automation solution based on strong expertise

Valmet DNA, the automation system for Vitus Bering, represents state-of-the-art technology. It is an integrated system with alarm, monitoring and control functions for the vessel’s machinery, as well as liquid and bulk cargo systems. Also the diesel electric power plant is fully managed by the Valmet DNA Power Management System.


“In an icebreaking vessel, system redundancy is important to secure availability and safe operation,” states Unto Ryynänen. When sailing in thick ice, you have to trust the vessel and its automation system he says.

With Valmet DNA, the customer can reap the benefits of process automation expertise. Valmet has come along a long way from the first Damatic automation system delivered in the 1970s to the Valmet DNA automation system of today. Captain Sergei Zakharov has had positive experiences with his earlier icebreaking vessel, the Fesco Sakahlin, which is equipped with a Damatic system. Now he also has full confidence in Vitus Bering’s automation solution. The system must operate reliably as the vessel usually remains out at sea for about 2.5 months.  

User-friendly automation to support decision-making

Per Syvertsen, Manager, Sales Support, at Valmet emphasizes: “In demanding ice conditions, the meaning of correctly performed tasks, early detection of possible disturbances, and also a quick recovery from disturbances, play an important role.” The DNA Operate tool supports the user in controlling complex situations. According to Per Syvertsen, the automation solution includes a Valmet DNA Historian information management system that provides versatile analyzing and reporting tools. The main target is to optimize machinery performance and fuel consumption, which makes the operation of the vessel more efficient and environmentally friendly.


Henry Rutanen, Electrical Tester forArctech Helsinki Shipyard, performs professional checks on the functions within the automation system. He has experience with Valmet DNA and feels very confident with it. “Every automation system is a bit different to use. Here, the functionality seems to be good. It is easy to find correct information, set alarm limits and handle alarms,” he lists. DNA Operate has a built-in feature to show graphical display data in history mode. Rutanen emphasizes the user-friendliness of the new system.

“The most important function of the Power Management System for the diesel generators is to balance and follow the energy consumption. In harsh ice conditions, significantly more power is needed,” Rutanen explains. Like Ryynänen, he also emphasizes availability, reliability and safety in vessel automation.

A great achievement

As the Vitus Bering was leaving the Helsinki Shipyard Esko Mustamäki, Managing Director of Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, commented:  “Delivering this vessel today is an important achievement for Arctech. It is an important reference for us as we compete for orders of arctic vessels in the future. Delivering a technically advanced ship as the Vitus Bering - in just two years - demands good cooperation skills from the shipyard, client and suppliers. I think we have succeeded well in this project.”

At the vessel’s visit to St. Petersburg, which was the first port to enter in Russia, the vessel was visited by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko, Deputy MD of Vyborg Shipyard Olga Lukasheva, as well as top managers from Gazprom, Novatek, and Exxon Neftegas. President Putin explained: “We already have the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet. Let’s work on building an entire range of high-tech vessels.”


For more information:

Per Syvertsen, per.syvertsen at valmet.com



In an icebreaking vessel, system redundancy is important to secure availability and safe operation.”
Unto Ryynänen, Project Coordinator of Electrical Design, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard