Home SCIENCE Here’s How Massive Icebreaker Ships Plow Through Frozen Seas

Here’s How Massive Icebreaker Ships Plow Through Frozen Seas

Ice is dangerous to shipping, aside from the headline danger of sinking a ship, it can trap them and drift for hundreds or thousands of miles before releasing them again months or years later.

image credit: Science Channel 

Polar ships today are strengthened against the pressures of ice, some have a design that is the right shape and with enough power to drive through ice.

image credit: Science Channel 

These days, ships that go to the polar regions are of course no longer made of wood, but of steel. They still need to be specially strengthened to work in ice conditions. An ordinary ship with no strengthening will not risk touching ice at all, no matter how gently.


A modern ship weighing thousands of tonnes meeting an iceberg weighing perhaps as much again or up to thousands of times more can easily sustain enough damage to require major repairs or to sink her. Ice will easily hole a non-strengthened ship.

Ships therefore that have any chance of contacting ice are at least ice-strengthened, they may be designed to plough through the ice as do ice-breakers.All ships designed for the ice have rounded keels with no protuberances. There are no stabilizing fins, as found on normal ships and as a result ships that are designed to contact ice roll heavily in a even a light sea.