The nuclear icebreaker they smash their way through 3-meter (10-foot) thick ice crusts to create viable pathways for other vessels – but fascinating new technologies could mean the days of the dedicated icebreaker are numbered.
An icebreaker‘s bow has a smooth shape, almost like the back of a spoon. When the ship hits ice, the bow causes the front end of the ship to ride up on top of the ice, so the vessel’s immense weight can then crush it from above.
The hull is shaped to push the crushed ice out of the way of the ship’s propulsion system.
The icebreakers have enormous power. It’s worth taking a look at the greatest icebreaker ever to ride the White Sea: Russia’s NS 50 Let Pobed. The 50 Let Pobedy runs a pair of nuclear reactors that generate a combined 55.2 megawatts (74,000 horsepower), which hits the water through three electric propulsion motors.