How Some Of The Toughest Ships On Earth Work

By: Keyes Bronson, Journalist

Icebreakers are some of the strongest ships made by man. They originally were based on wooden ships, but they have been toughened up over the years. Such strengthening was made to deal with pushing through ice up to twenty-one   feet thick and dealing with ice flowing around the ship caused by winds and tides pushing against the ship and trapping it. This is called “nipping.”

Today, Icebreaker ships are made up of steel. However, they still need to be reinforced in a particular way to work against ice. They are very important for opening paths in the ice for other ships. Most icebreakers have a curved bow built with a strengthened hull and internal frame. This makes it possible for the Icebreaker to slide up onto the ice and then crush the ice with the ship’s vast weight.

Icebreakers still need the energy to function. They are typically powered with a combination of diesel-electric and nuclear power. Some ships like the Polar Star have a gas turbine also. The electric plant can contain around 6 diesel engines that generate electrical power. It can generate up to 6,000 horsepower and is used for light icebreaking. Gas turbines can generate up to 25,000 horsepower and are used for heavy icebreaking.


Want to board an Icebreaker and take off to the North Pole?