New icebreaker ship will cut through ice sideways

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Originally published on August 5, 2013

Finland's Arctech Helsinki Shipyard is taking a different approach with its 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 metres long and 20 metres wide, it 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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