Year-Round, Safer and More Profitable International Cargo Transport


Despite the difficult conditions caused by the pandemic, Finnish and Russian specialists continue to work on the international project INFUTURE - "The Future Potential of Inland Waterways" – financed from the South-East Finland-Russia European CBC Program.


Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping (AMSUMIS) and the Marine Freight Bureau carried out profound and detailed analytical studies covering two areas. > Find the Reports here at the Kotka Maritime Research Centre site.


Year-Round, Safer and More Profitable International Cargo Transportation by Inland Waterways between Russia and Finland


The first focus was on legislative and regulatory documentation for navigation on inland waterways of Russia to clarify the requirements for the Finnish shipowners and in addition to understand the possibilities of harmonising the standards with the European ones. The importance of the administrative bodies in organising navigation on the rivers of Russia, in particular the Volga-Baltic Administration, was studied and emphasised.


The second focus was on the prospects and possibilities to increase and forecast inland waterway cargo transportation volumes between Russia and Finland. Professional strategic analysis, considering the statistics of exports and imports between the two countries, including various types of transport, made it possible to define the most significant goods for inland waterway transportation and to predict the volumes. The findings of this study will be useful for the authorities and companies in both countries.


While solving the challenges and the possibilities of extending navigation period on inland waterways and canals, evaluating the capabilities of advanced navigation and hydrographic services, and comparing modern digital technical means for monitoring and controlling vessel traffic on inland waterways, several unique scientific results were obtained.


First, a method of determining the optimal number of floating navigational marks necessary to ensure a sufficient level of safe navigation in the circumstances of extending the navigation period on the Volgo-Balta was noted. This method is based on the use of navigation risk assessment, and it considers the peculiarities of ship management on rivers and canals in difficult hydrometeorological conditions.


In addition, in 2020, in the Neva-Ladoga waterway area, a long-term field experiment was launched on the use of specialised floating navigation signs, ATONS, made of polymer materials that can function in severe ice conditions. These specialised buoys were provided by the Finnish project partners, Arctia Ltd SeaHow. With the assistance of the Administration of the Volga-Baltic Basin, two such buoys were installed: the first in the water area of ​​Lake Ladoga and the second in the area of ​​Shlisselburg, river Neva.


AMSUMIS, together with LLC Marine Engineering Bureau-SPb conducted also a research on requirements for new vessel types and developing tools for analysing navigation on inland waterways. They confirmed the characteristics for three promising projects of building new generation cargo vessels for inland waterway transport along the Saimaa Canal between Russia and Finland. As a result of this, a universal dry-cargo vessel and a container ship are being developed according to the Russian River Register class and another universal dry-cargo vessel to the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.


Aalto University and AMSUMIS have developed, manufactured, and tested two vessel models for general cargo. A large-scale self-propelled hull model of one promising dry-cargo ship has been manufactured and tested in the laboratory basin of the Russian partner in the conditions of "clear and calm water". A unique work was conducted as performing comparative tests of the model in “clear and calm water” conditions, as well as in ice conditions at the Aalto University research basin with the company Aker Arctic Technologies.


In addition, within the frames of the INFUTURE project, the idea is to carry out a specialised pilot on training of crews sailing under a foreign flag when entering the water area of ​​the Volga-Baltic basin. This course includes the use of a navigation simulator to develop practical skills for navigating the most difficult parts along the inland waterway route between the countries from the navigational point of view.


The Finnish government has decided to invest in the reconstruction of the Saimaa Canal. As the work of extending the canal chambers and raising the water level it is possible to navigate on Saimaa route with even larger cargo vessels carrying larger volumes of cargo. In anticipation of this, the University of Applied Sciences of South-East Finland has developed a simulator to simulate the movement of larger cargo ships on the Saimaa in various difficult weather conditions. At the same time, it is planned to test and evaluate the advantages of intelligent navigation devices located in the fairway. Such modeling will provide significant improvements in the safety and cost-effectiveness of freight transport.


This project is interesting and attractive for cargo owners, ship owners and transport and logistics operators both in Finland and in Russia.


Author: Mihail Pimonenko, Director, ILOT, St. Petersburg

Firstly published in Russian.