Today, freight transport is mostly done by sea. This is usually not a problem. But how do ships arrive at ports when the sea is frozen?
The ice hampers cargo transportation in almost every part of the world. In North America this is a common problem on the Great Lakes, on the St. Lawrence River and along the Canadian coast.
An even greater problem during the winter is sailing the seas around the Arctic and Antarctic. The average thickness of ice in this area ranges from two to three meters.
The first icebreaker ships
After the appearance of the first steel steamships, the situation changed. A ship that was strong enough could break through the thinner ice. However, the ability of such ships to break ice was still limited, though some of them had specially reinforced hulls for that purpose.
The solution came when the icebreakers started to build. Apparently the first icebreaker in the world was City Ice Boat I, which was built in 1837 in the United States.
In Europe, in 1871, in Hamburg (Germany), a icebreaker Eisbrecher was built. Experience has soon shown which ships are best off against ice, and at the beginning of the 20th century they already knew what icebreakers were supposed to be.
What is the icebreaker?
The steel plate on the bow of the ship can be over three centimeters thick – and in icebergs in polar seas it is even five centimeters, and the hull itself beside the regular has a special rib that serves as an additional boost.
For a ship that goes off ice it is extremely important how his body is shaped. Namely, the toughest task is often not to break ice, but to suppress fragmented pieces. Many icebreakers have a pretty shallow and rounded bow, which reminds you of a spoon. The icebreaker ship actually break ice with masses, and the ice pieces are pushed side or under.
Modern icebreakers are powered by a diesel-electric drive, and the power of their propulsion units corresponds to the power of medium-sized tankers.
When the ship is stuck in the ice, it swing left to right and breaks the ice around it. The swinging of the ship is achieved by a special system for the alternating tilt of the skid steerer to the higher water volume alternately shifted from the tanks to one in the tanks on the other side of the ship.
Multipurpose icebreakers are built to break ice during the winter, and when the ice is melted, they are also used for jobs such as laying cables, for exploration purposes or for supplying remote oil platforms.
4 facts about icebreaker ships
– The first icebreaker was City Ice Boat I built in 1837
– Soviet / Russian ship named Lenjin built in 1957 was a first nuclear-powered icebreaker
– The Russian nuclear icebreaker Arctic, built in 2016, is the largest icebreaker in the world. Its length is 173 meters and its width is 34 meters
– The largest users of icebreakers are Finland, Sweden, USA and Russia