Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) used the first icebreakers to make important waterways in our country for shipping traffic. Large parts of the IJssel- and Markermeer and the Randmeren were already frozen, so they had to be ice-free on Thursday.
“ By making these routes ice-free, there is no need to proclame a sailing ban. This will happen otherwise, because with too thick icing on the waterways it is no longer justified to allow ships to sail independently,” says Suzanne Maas of RWS.
“ This usually happens with an ice thickness of about five centimers. Then ships that sail in the channel can get off course or get stuck in the ice, which can lead to damage to the ship,” Maas knows. “But the shipping ban is also intended to prevent damage to locks, bridges, mooring facilities, sheet walls, banks and dikes.”
Sailing in convoy
If possible, Rijkswaterstaat offers shipping the possibility to sail in a convoy in the event of a shipping ban. The waterway is then cleared by one or two icebreakers at the head of the convoy. Behind it a number of ships sail, followed by an icebreaker. By using icebreakers and convoys, we prevent as much as possible a curdling of the route.
“ These are busy times for Rijkswaterstaat”, continues Maas, “because after the high water, the extreme snowfall and frost damage to the roads, we enter a new chapter with the icebreakers. But it is simply necessary for the smooth and safe flow of shipping traffic on major shipping routes. It is expected that the Hoofdvaarweg Lemmer-Delfzijl (HLD) and a branch of the Twente Canal between Goor and Almelo will be opened on Friday.”
time being, there are no problems on the major rivers such as the Rhine, Waal, Meuse and essential sailing routes such as the North Sea Canal and are not expected. Maas: “But during the coming days with severe frosts, we keep a close eye on everything and constantly make ice sightings from the icebreakers, from the reporting stations or via a drone.