Aker Arctic’s story is rooted in the history of Finnish icebreaker construction since the late 1930s
Until the 1970s, icebreakers were developed and built based on experience with previous vessels, combined with full-scale experimental tests. The first ice model basin was set up in 1969 to assist the oil company Esso International Inc in its 1969 Prudhoe Bay development project to allow oil transportation services through the Northwest Passage. Its first task was to develop the icebreaking hull form for the converted crude oil tanker SS Manhattan, which performed successfully in the ice fields north of Alaska.
The ice model basin continued to operate under the name Wärtsilä Ice Model Basin, part of Wärtsilä Shipbuilding. In those years, the Helsinki yard was continuously building icebreakers and other ice-going tonnage.
A specific design and consulting department, Wärtsilä Arctic Design and Marketing, was established in the early 1980s, working together with Wärtsilä Ice Model Basin. In addition to in-house R&D, it offered research and consultancy services, ranging from ice model tests to full-scale field trials with ships and structures, including ice data collection expeditions. The name Wärtsilä Arctic Research Centre (WARC) was adopted in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the Arctic Technology group took over, this shipyard organization also being in charge of marketing ice-going ships. The second laboratory was inaugurated in 1983. The scientific work became top priority, resulting in several important developments. MARC FG (fine grain) model ice was developed, and even patented.
When the land lease agreement expired, the decision was made to build a new, bigger, ice model basin. Agreement was reached with the city of Helsinki in late 2004 to build the new facilities in the Vuosaari area, east of the centre of Helsinki, alongside the Port of Vuosaari.
In 2005 Aker Arctic Technology Inc was founded as an independent company. Moved to the new premises and simultaneously expanded its operations by ship development and design.