Top 5 Biggest Ice Breaker Ships in the World in 2011

The icebreaker ships, moving and navigating through ice-covered waters, requires three traits of a strengthened hull, an ice-clearing shape, and a great momentum and the power of a robust engine to push through the frozen land. Ice breaker ships are of utmost importance in ice-clad regions, wherein water ways need to be made accessible by clearing off the layers of ice.

Here are the top 5 biggest ice breaker ships that rock the world in 2011.

USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30)

It has a length of 240 feet with a hull displacement of 3530 long tons. This giant ice breaker ship carries nine officers and a crew of 47. It breaks up to 32 inches of level ice at a speed of 3 knots ahead or 2 knots astern and 14 inches of ice at a speed of 10 knots ahead.  It breaks brash ice 8 feet thick at 3 knots ahead or 2 knots astern. Two ABB Azipods, a 500 HP bow thrusters help it to maneuver 180 degrees in a 300-foot wide channel in 32 inches of level ice or 10 feet of brash ice in less than five minutes.

Credits: USCG/

Credits: USCG/

Launched in 2005 for operations on the North American Great Lakes for the United States Coast Guard, Mackinaw is also used in cases of oil spills, buoy maintenance, search and rescue and law enforcement missions.

RV Polarstern

Commissioned in 1982 the Polarstern is mainly used for research in the Arctic and Antarctica by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven. This ice breaker ship, considered to be the second biggest icebreaker, has a double-hull design with a length of 387 feet and four engines, producing 20,000 hp and allowing it to reach at a maximum speed of 16 knots in open water. Operational at temperatures as low as -50°C, the Polarstern can break through 5ft of ice at a speed of 5 knots.

Credits: Hannes Grobe/

Credits: Hannes Grobe/

Polarstern’s special depth-sounding devices can gain 32,380 ft. underwater and dig into almost 500 ft. into the sea floor which help in collecting oceanographic and geological samples that aid in scientific researches.

CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent

Although built in 1969, this Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker ship underwent an extensive and costly modernization between 1988-1993 which had its hull lengthened and new propulsion and navigation equipment installed.

Credits: Verne Equinox/

Credits: Verne Equinox/

With a displacement of 11,441 tonnes and length of 393.04 ft this huge ice breaker ship, along with the Polar Sea, was the first surface vessels in history to reach the North Pole in 1994. Equipped with an efficient icebreaking system, it can download satellite imagery from Terra Scan technology, when there is fog or thick cloud cover.


USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB-11)

Constructed by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company of Seattle and even though commissioned in 1977 this is one of two world’s most powerful class of non-nuclear icebreaker ships and is still in service. The Polar Sea boasts of a displacement of 13,194 long tons, a length of 399 ft and the ability to progress through 6 ft of ice at 3 knots.

Credits: ScottyBoy/

Credits: ScottyBoy/

It carries a crew of 24 officers, 20 chief petty officers and other 102 engaged. This icebreaker ship owns four sizable lounges, a library, a gym and a small ship’s store. It also has the amenities of its own U.S. Post Office, satellite telephones, radio equipment, photo lab, and movie library etc. It serves as a scientific research platform with its onboard laboratories concerning fields of geology, vulcanology, oceanography, sea-ice physics and other disciplines.

NS 50 Let Pobedy

50 лет Победы in Russian or 50 Years Since Victory is currently the biggest icebreaker ship in the world as of 2011. It is a Russian Arktika class nuclear powered icebreaker and boasts of exceptional maneuverability and a top speed of 21.4 knots.  With a crew of 140 and a displacement of 25840 metric tons, it is 524 ft long and is designed to break through ice up to 2.8 meters thick.

Credits: Kiselev d/

Credits: Kiselev d/

Armed with a digital automated control system, the spoon-shaped bow desing increases the efficiency of breaking the ice. Modern comforts onboard include an exercise facility, a massage facility , a swimming pool, a restaurant, a library and a music salon.

You may also like to read-What are Double Acting Tankers?

Reference: uscg

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  1. sofiane says

    hi, it’s an injustice that there isn’t seamen’s clubs, and the seafarers are not allowed to leave the ship fore some hours in their rest time, throughout some coastal country, even inside the port,,inspit of absence of securuty.problems, too the racism and behaviours to impose some authorities to some nationalities. I compare what happened is some contry like algeria, and holland it’s alarge different like earth and the sky, where is IMO’s intervention.

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