It was the year 1965 – the re-establishing of the regular ferry service between Helsinki and Tallinn

by  Liivi Uuet, Archivist of the National Archives of Estonia

Tallinn cargo harbour was festively decorated with the flags of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic and Finland in the morning of July 7, 1965: motor vessel Vanemuine[1] was sent to its maiden journey from Tallinn to Helsinki which restored regular ferry service between Tallinn and Helsinki. The 1,000-ton vessel was built in Bulgaria the previous year. After official speeches, it started its journey to Helsinki where it was welcomed with similar festivity: the harbour was decorated with flags, press conference was held and official receptions took place at the town government of Helsinki and in the Finnish-Soviet Society of Friendship.

On July 8 Vanemuine returned to Tallinn at 13:30 carrying 100 passengers from Finland and 44 crew members. They were welcomed by the head of the Estonian Communist Party, Ivan Käbin, the head of the Council of Ministers, Valter Klauson, and the minister of foreign affairs, Arnold Green. The arriving visitors were led by the deputy speaker of Eduskunta (Finnish Parliament) Paavo Aitio, the minister of foreign affairs Ahti Karjalainen, the General Secretary of Communist Party Ville Pessi and the Soviet Ambassador to Finland Kovalyov.

The departure of the motor vessel Vanemuine from Tallinn on July, 7. First from the left the Secretary of the Estonian Communist Party, Vaino Väljas, on the right newly built passenger terminal. EFA.357.0-89726
The departure of the motor vessel Vanemuine from Tallinn on July, 7. First from the left the Secretary of the Estonian Communist Party, Vaino Väljas, on the right newly built passenger terminal. EFA.357.0-89726

The key words in the speeches held by Green, Karjalainen and Pessi were the great friendship of Finland and Estonia (resp. Soviet Union) and the ferry line as a guarantee of world peace. Green stressed the opportunity opening to Finns to see the changes and the advances of socialism in Estonia during the past 25 years. In his speech Pessi greeted Estonia on behalf of the Finnish workers saying “We know that Tallinn is a beautiful town and we are happy to do sightseeing here. Welcome to us in Helsinki!”

Motor ship Vanemuine after its maiden voyage in the harbour of Tallinn. EFA.204.0-89740
Motor ship Vanemuine after its maiden voyage in the harbour of Tallinn. EFA.204.0-89740
The welcoming ceremony of the motor ship Vanemuine on July 8. Ville Pessi speaks. EFA.242.0-58260
The welcoming ceremony of the motor ship Vanemuine on July 8. Ville Pessi speaks. EFA.242.0-58260
3.
The welcoming ceremony of the motor ship Vanemuine on July 8 in Tallinn. EFA.0-63718

 

 

 

 

 

 

On July 9, the Finnish motor ship Vellamo, twice the size of Vanemuine, arrived at Tallinn. According to the registers of the Tallinn cargo harbour, Vanemuine made 16 voyages in July, i.e. nearly every day, but the number of passengers fluctuated from 30 to 170. Also Vellamo and Silja II arrived from Finland. During the first month altogether 3070 passengers travelled from Helsinki to Tallinn and 3196 from Tallinn to Helsinki. Despite the friendly welcome words of Pessi, the majority of them were Finns. The operation ended at the end of September. On October 1 Vanemuine made its last journey from Helsinki to Tallinn and on October 10 it was sent to Kalingrad. According to the registers of ships’ arrivals and departures, 10,045 passengers arrived from July to 1 October and 10,528 passengers left the Estonian capital during the same period. The ships departed from Helsinki at 8 and arrived in Tallinn at 13:30, and from Tallinn they departed at 19:00 or 19:30 and arrived in Helsinki early morning the next day.

Excerpt from the register of arrivals of the Tallinn cargo harbour.
Excerpt from the register of arrivals of the Tallinn cargo harbour.
Excerpt from the register of departures of the Tallinn cargo harbour.
Excerpt from the register of departures of the Tallinn cargo harbour.

In 1966 the Finns wanted to arrange trips for 15,000 tourists already from 1 May to 30 September. At the same time they also asked to change the departure time from Helsinki by two hours in order to enable the passengers coming from Sweden to catch the ship to Tallinn. It can be assumed that most of such passengers were exile-Estonians. In 1966, the ferry service continued, Finns used Vellamo as before, but Estonians operated a bigger ship, Tallinn, built in 1960 in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). By August the number of passengers between Tallinn and Helsinki reached 25,000. In 1980 a new and comfortable cargo/passenger ferry built in Poland, M/S Georg Ots, named after the most famous Estonian opera singer, took over.

J. Surmin, the captain of Tallinn, congratulates the 25 000th passenger, a Finn A. Jansen. August 1966. EFA.204.0-69857
J. Surmin, the captain of Tallinn, congratulates the 25 000th passenger, a Finn A. Jansen. August 1966. EFA.204.0-69857

 

[1]      Vanemuine is the god of songs in the arificial Estonian mythology. The name has probably Finnish origin.


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