Today’s largest cargo ships can exceed 40 metres — in width — making any sort of passage through the arctic’s ice-encrusted trade routes nearly impossible without the help of not one but two conventional icebreakers. But with just a single one of these triangular ships leading the way, even the largest container vessel can forge through ice fields with ease.
Developed by engineers at Kværner Masa-Yards Arctic Technology Centre (MARC) and christened the Baltika, this triangular ship concept measures 77 metres long with a 6.4 metre draught and 1043-tonne displacement. Three main generators, each producing 3000kW (4000hp) provide a top speed of 14 knots and service range of 4500 nautical miles. Unlike conventional icebreakers that plough their bows onto and through ice sheets, the Baltika employs three 2.5MW azimuth thrusters to push the entire side of the triangular ship at a 50-degree angle onto the ice, punching open a 50 metre wide channel in its wake. These vessels are rated to crush up to a metre of ice continuously while cruising at 3 knots and up to 1.5 metres of ice with minor structural modifications.
Aside from escort duties, the Baltika can play a variety of other roles. It can clear floes from harbours and the surrounding coastline, tow disabled vessels, assist in rescue and salvage operations — even help clean up oil spills by sweeping the vertical side of the asymmetric hull about in the water, funelling the slick into an on-board skimmer. [Wired – Wikipedia – RT News]