Suomen ympäristökeskus

Competitive tendering starts for oil removal from the Ilmarinen shipwreck


The Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) is launching the competitive tendering for removing the oil from the wrecked coastal defence ship Ilmarinen. The tendering process is part of Syke’s statutory monitoring of high-risk shipwrecks.

A photograph of coastal defence ship Ilmarinen on 18 August 1941, less than a month before it sank.
A photograph of coastal defence ship Ilmarinen on 18 August 1941, less than a month before it sank. Vilho Heinämies SA images

Under the Environmental Protection Act, Syke is responsible for monitoring and removing oil from wrecks that pose a risk of environmental damage. The condition of shipwrecks is monitored and the sites for oil removal are selected with the help of a risk assessment based on studies and monitoring data.

Ilmarinen shipwreck and its pre-salvage survey

On 13 September 1941, coastal defence ship Ilmarinen sank in northern Baltic Sea, about 40 kilometres to south-west from the island of Utö, after hitting a mine. The wreck is located at a depth of approximately 80 metres and its tanks contain an estimated 100,000 litres of light fuel oil. The Ilmarinen wreck is the grave of 271 marines, but the oil removal can be carried out without disturbing the sanctity of the grave.

In 2023, the Finnish Environment Institute conducted a pre-salvage survey on the Ilmarinen wreck in cooperation with the Finnish Border Guard and the Finnish Heritage Agency. In addition to an archive review, the vessel was filmed with a diving robot (remotely operated vehicle, ROV) and multibeam echo sounder, water and sediment samples were taken from the wreck, and a 3D model of the vessel’s hull and tanks was prepared.

According to the pre-salvage survey, the Ilmarinen wreck is well preserved, but there are significant changes on its surface caused by corrosion. Oil droplets have been regularly observed on the surface above the wreck, but it was not possible to locate the exact place of the oil leak on the wreck.

“The corrosion of the wreck is progressing, and the risk of a larger oil spill is growing year by year. The Ilmarinen wreck is upside down on the seabed, but it will be relatively easy to access the fuel tanks through the vessel’s bottom structure”, says Coordinator Miia Farstad from the Finnish Environment Institute.

The 3D image generated of the Ilmarinen shipwreck for the oil removal shows that the wreck is upside down on the seabed. The fuel tanks, located by the bottom of the wreck, are relatively easy to access through the bottom structure of the vessel. Miia Farstad Finnish Environment Institute

Tendering and timetable for the oil removal

The Finnish Environment Institute launched the competitive tendering for the oil removal of the Ilmarinen shipwreck on 9 February 2024. The plan is to drain the oil from the oil tanks of the wreck during 2024.

Project manager Tommi Kontto from the Finnish Environment Institute explains that the oil removal of the Ilmarinen wreck will be a pilot for an arrangement where a commercial operator carries out the removal as a turnkey solution without authority assistance.

Until now, wrecks in the Finnish sea area have been emptied of fuel by the authorities. For example, in August 2020, the wrecks of Hanna Marjut and Fortuna in the Finnish Archipelago Sea were drained of fuel in a collaboration between the Finnish Environment Institute and the Navy.

A maximum of EUR 2 million has been reserved for the project that is now being tendered. In the future, appropriations for the oil removal of individual wrecks will be applied for separately from the state budget.



Project Manager Tommi Kontto,, tel. +358 295 252 278

Coordinator Miia Farstad,, tel. +358 295 252 295

Communication Specialist Eija Järvinen,, tel. +358 295 251 242

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It is time to move beyond solving environmental problems one by one, to systemic sustainability transformations. The Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) contributes to building a sustainable society through research, information and services. The Finnish Environment Institute is a research institute with 700 experts and researchers located in Helsinki, Oulu, Jyväskylä and Joensuu.

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