There have been a total of 14 lighthouse vessels in Finland. The first was the “Snipan”, which was anchored to its station in Kvarken in 1868. Kemi, which was saved as a museum ship, was built in 1901 at the Pori machine shop. It represented a completely new type of lighthouse designed for Arctic waters, intended to be kept outdoors even in early winter conditions. The closed exterior of the ship extended all the way to the weather deck. Steam lines had been laid under the bow deck to heat the deck, thus preventing the accumulation of a layer of ice endangering the stability of the ship. The ship also had its own propulsion machinery, in addition to the steam engine, there were also sails in reserve. Two large anchors, one weighing 1,100 kg and the other 850 kg, ensured that the ship remained in place. For them, there was a Sturdy anchor game placed under the bow. The lighthouse ships were two groups of three-lamp oil lamps hung on rings surrounding the masts at an angle of 120 degrees from each other. During daylight, they were lowered into lamp rooms at the base of the masts for maintenance and refilling.
The ship was placed at the mouth of the Helsinki entrance and named Äransgrund after the shallow shore next door. It was kept outside for as long as possible, usually until the port of Helsinki was closed for the winter. Often it was out back in January, and was put in place in April. The ship’s crew consisted of 11 men: a beacon, two mates, a foreman, a heater, a sailor, four sailors and a steward. In addition, four pilots were stationed on board. The lighthouse ship and the steward were released from the guards, the other crew was divided into two guards, commanded by the mates. They monitored the ship’s presence, the lights on, and beeps in the event of fog. They also carried out the meteorological observations assigned to the ship and the transportation of the pilots by lighthouse boat. The latter had something to do, because before the First World War there were no motorboats in use, but the pilots were transported by rowing, which in windy weather required almost the entire crew, including those on duty. In addition to these, the work included the normal chores of the ships, such as maintenance, cleaning, and painting.
The position and with it the name of the ship changed in 1921, when it became Relandersgrund off Rauma. In 1923, its lighting equipment was renewed: an 11m high steel lighthouse tower was built in place of the stern, with acetylene light installed on top. In the spring of 1926, the name of the ship was translated into “Relander Shallow”. This was the busiest period of the Prohibition Act, and the ship’s duties also included maritime surveillance for smugglers. In 1933, the name was changed to Rauma, and the ship served at its station until the end of 1953. The Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse, completed at that time, made the ship redundant, and in 1954-55 it served (with all its lighthouse equipment) as a support vessel for sea surveying, after which it was renovated in Vaasa, moved to Kemi and got its last name Kemi. The vessel was decommissioned in 1973, but after the on-site beacon was damaged, it was put into service for another year. After this, it was decided to renovate Kemi into a museum ship. However, funding for the refurbishment could be expected until 1986, by which time the stationary vessel had already been badly damaged. Its renovation was commissioned at Rauma-Repola’s Savonlinna shipyard. After graduating in 1988, Kemi was handed over to the National Board of Antiquities, anchored in front of the Finnish Maritime Museum on Helsinki’s Hylkysaari and opened to the public as a museum ship in 1989. After the Maritime Museum moved to Kotka, Kemi followed. It is “behind” the pier of the Finnish Maritime Museum, but is not currently open to the public.
- Name: Kemi (1956-)
- Type: Lighthouse ship
- Home port: Kotka
- Completed: 1901
- Builder: Porin Konepaja
- Former names: Äransgrund (1901-21), Relandersgrund (1921-26), Relanderinmatala (1926-33), Rauma (1933-56)
- Lenght: 31.0
- Beam: 6.1
- Speed (knots):
- Owner: Suomen Merimuseo
- Former owners: Merenkulkuhallitus (?)
- A nice to know fact about the ship: Last steam operated lighthouse ship
- Engine type: Compound
- Engine built: 1901 (?)
- Engine manufacturer: Porin Konepaja (?)
- Engine power (ihp): 166
- A nice to know fact about the engine:
- Boiler type: Scotch marine boiler
- Boiler built: 1901
- Boiler manufacturer: ?
- Fuel: Coal
- Furnaces (number): 2
- Operating pressure (bar): ?
- Heating surface: ?
- A nice to know fact about the boiler: