How do Icebreaker Ships Work?

An Icebreaker ship is designed to enable people to sail through ice-covered waters, by breaking the ice blocks and creating a clear passage through the Arctic seas.

The Purpose of Icebreaker Ships

Icebreaker ships are used for many different purposes, including: providing a clear path for other ships, scientific research, trade, search and rescue, and recently even arctic cruises for tourists and adventure lovers.

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How are Icebreakers Made

In order to be able to break through the ice, Icebreakers are designed with several specific features:

Strengthened Hull – the hull is reinforced at the bow, the stern, and at the waterline (where it meets the surface), and covered with special polymer materials to minimize friction.

Since sea ice has relatively low bending capabilities, it usually breaks relatively easily under the strengthened hull. However, in instances when the ice is particularly thick, the icebreaker drives into it, while using its own weight to break through the ice.

Unique Shape – The ship’s hull is designed to gradually slope at the bow. This serves two purposes – first, it allows to use its weight to break the ice, second , it enables the ship to push the broken ice away to prevent a buildup.

Extra Strong Engines – Not only do Icebreakers perform a difficult task that requires additional strength, they also have unique navigation and propulsion systems that are at risk of being damaged by the ice. Therefore, in order to safely navigate the ice, this vessel requires particularly powerful engines.