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“Ymer”:
The first diesel-electric icebreaker in the world
   Ymer
 

The revolutionary design of “Ymer” was a breakthrough for diesel-electric powered icebreakers in the Baltic Sea area.
ILLUSTRATION: HÅKAN SJÖSTRÖM

When the Swedish icebreaker “Ymer” was delivered in 1933 she was of such a radical design, that this concept was to act as a model for several later icebreaker generations.
Diesel-electric machinery was installed in a seagoing icebreaker for the first time in “Ymer”. In order to make the channel wider and cleaner she had a beam of 18.6 m and a twin screw arrangement in the stern. In addition to that, “Ymer” had one propeller in the bow.

Built in Sweden
The need for another government-owned icebreaker was actualised in Sweden after the grounding of “Statsisbrytaren” outside Trelleborg in 1929. When the project was launched, the Finnish Jääkarhu was the model and three machinery alternatives were presented – steam, diesel and diesel-electric. Despite the higher cost, the diesel-electric alternative was chosen.
The order was placed at Kockums in Malmö in July 1931 and after completion the trials commenced in February 1933. Ice trials were carried out off Gävle in March.
“Ymer” had a displacement of 4,330 t fully loaded. The 9,000-hp diesel-electric machinery gave her excellent performance and the design was trendsetting for decades to come. Just a few years later the Finns built their first diesel-electric icebreaker “Sisu”, following the “Ymer”-concept.

Long service record
After the delivery of “Ymer”, several mild winters followed. She was, however, put to the test during the first three winters of World War II, which were extremely cold. The icebreaking campaigns were not ended until late spring or early summer.
In the post-war years “Ymer” was Sweden’s most powerful icebreaker until the delivery of “Oden” in 1957. At the end of the 1960’s machinery problems became more and more frequent and “Ymer” was finally mothballed in 1970. After that she still saw service during three winters as reserve icebreaker.
In 1975, the port of Stockholm was interested in a long-term charter of “Ymer”. After trials, this turned out to be too costly a project. “Ymer” was sold for scrapping and ended her days at the Perssöner in Ystad 1976–77. The tale of one of the most significant Baltic Sea icebreakers had come to an end.

//Pär-Henrik Sjöström

Sources:
Staffan Fischerström: Isbrytare
Blenner, Ohrelius: Isbrytare


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