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How a New Russian Icebreaker Slices Sideways Through Frozen Seas - Wired Science

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The Baltika isn’t adrift—it’s breaking ice. Debuting in the Gulf of Finland in early 2014, the Russian-owned ship will be the first to travel sideways through the frozen stuff. Although smaller than a normal icebreaker, its oblique angle of attack lets it carve a larger path—wide enough for commercial ships to follow. “You would conventionally need two icebreakers to make the same channel,” project manager Mika Willberg says. The vessel can even help with oil spills: The unique hull guides oily water into a hatch, where a skimmer tank separates the oil from the water. The Baltika can crack through ice about 2 feet thick, which makes it suitable for conditions in the Baltic Sea. The ship’s patent holder, Aker Arctic, has a larger ship in the works to cut trade routes through heavier Arctic ice.


Inside, water and fuel are pumped between tanks so the ship doesn’t roll over.

Roll and Crush 

Instead of smashing ice head-on, the angled hull lets the ship roll over the ice and use its weight to do the cracking.


Three 360-degree thrusters let the ship navigate sideways to attack the ice at a 30-degree angle. 

Wide Swath

The Baltika cuts a 160-foot path through ice, allowing tankers to follow in its wake.

Ok, that is really cool. 

Is that new technology or just a clever application of old technology?

Unconventional and innovative application of traditional technology:

The development of the oblique icebreaker concept began in 1997, when Kværner Masa-Yards Arctic Technology Centre (MARC) established a project to develop new ways of assisting large tankers in ice conditions. Traditionally, escorting large ships up to 40 metres (130 ft) wide required two conventional icebreakers with a beam of 23–25 metres (75–82 ft), a practice that was not very efficient and economical. Analysis of Finnish harbour statistics and icebreaker logbooks showed that with a beam of 20 metres (66 ft), the icebreaker would be wide enough to provide assistance to most merchant ships in need of towing. The larger ships, fewer in number, could then be assisted with an unconventional method. The result was an asymmetrical, triangle-shaped vessel with three azimuth thrusters in the "corners" pushing the icebreaker with a 50-degree angle of attack — almost sideways — in ice. Model tests in an ice tank showed that the proposed concept was viable and that the resistance of a large cargo ship was considerably reduced in both level ice as well as frozen brash ice when operating behind the oblique icebreaker.[1] [2] The concept has been patented.[3]

(All ice seems brash to me.)

Well, today I learned something new. Seems like it is tremendously useful for icebreaking.

That rainbow at the end sells it, give me 5.

By rainbow do you mean oil slick?

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