Until now icebreaker ships have been built to cut ice in a straight line using their forward section. However, a newly developed icebreaker will be seen cutting thick layers of ice sideways, providing a greater surface area for breaking ice.
Finland’s Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, the company behind the innovative vessel, is taking a different approach with the new icebreaker, ice-breaking rescue vessel NB 508. Also known as the Baltika, the vessel is being built for Russia’s Ministry of Transport for use in the Gulf of Finland, near St. Petersburg.
At 76 meters long and 20 meters wide, the icebreaker features an asymmetric hull, which it will use to cut through ice obliquely, potentially doubling the size of the channels it clears compared with traditional icebreakers, which travel through ice in a straight path. Three engine pods mounted on the hull can rotate to deliver propulsion at any angle.
The Baltika is expected to be in the water by November and will be cutting ice by the spring thaw. It will also be used in search and rescue and oil spill cleanup operations, which it can perform even in heavy seas. The asymmetric hull will make the vessel difficult to steer at sea, causing it to pitch and roll in an irregular fashion, so its pilots will require special training.
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Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.
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