Last icebreaker leaves port of Rotterdam

26 March 2021
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RPA 20 left the port of Rotterdam today, Friday, 26 March at 8.00 am. The reserve patrol boat has been sold to contractor Zijsling en Zonen BV from Jutrijp, Friesland. The company is now also owner of sister ship RPA 24. This sale heralds the departure of the Port of Rotterdam’s last icebreaker.

Last icebreaker, RPA 20, leaves port of Rotterdam
Photo: Siebren Dijkstra

Whereas, prior to the war, you could walk across the Maas from south to north, winters are no longer cold enough to cause thick ice formation in the Port of Rotterdam. The last time the RPA 20 served as an icebreaker was in 2012 to make the Delfshavense Schie passable for inland shipping; not enough usage to keep a special vessel on standby in top-notch condition.

RPA 20 was used as an icebreaker as it is equipped with a reinforced bow. To break ice, the stern was ballasted with ballast water, causing the vessel to slope backwards slightly. This ensures that the propeller sits deeper in the water, preventing damage and enabling the reinforced bow to glide somewhat higher over the ice. The ice would break when the vessel sailed against or over the ice.

RPA 20, build number 548, was built in 1963 at Hendriks shipyard in Dodewaard. The vessel is 23.6 metres in length and 6.2 metres in the beam and was refurbished in the 1990s.

The entire series, including RPA 20, RPA 22, RPA 23 and RPA 24, was built at Hendriks in the 1960s. The other vessels are also no longer in service at the Port Authority.