These specialized ships help create paths by pushing into ice pockets.Icebreakers clear paths by pushing straight into ice pockets. The bending strength of sea ice is so low that usually the ice breaks without noticeable change in the vessel’s trim.
In cases of very thick ice, an icebreaker can drive its bow onto the ice to break it under the weight of the ship. Because a buildup of broken ice in front of a ship can slow it down much more than the breaking of the ice itself, icebreakers have a specially designed hull to direct the broken ice around or under the vessel.
The significant features that make the ice-breakers different from other vessels are its strengthened hull to resist ice waters, a specially designed ice-clearing shape to make a path forward and extreme power to navigate through sea ice.
Today, most icebreakers are needed to keep trade routes open where there are either seasonal or permanent ice conditions. When a ship becomes immobilized by ice, the icebreaker has to free it by breaking the ice surrounding the ship and, if necessary, open a safe passage through the ice field.