Last August we heard about the Baltika, a rather clever icebreaker that can temporarily increase its frontal area by traveling sideways into the ice. At the time, it was still under construction, and the only images available were renderings. Now, however, it's complete and has begun sea trials.
Built by Finland’s Arctech Helsinki Shipyard for the Russian Federal Agency of Sea and River Transport, the asymmetric-hulled Baltika travels through open water like a regular ship, but pivots to proceed forward at an angle of up to 30 degrees when reaching the ice. It's able to do so thanks to three propulsors on its underside, each one of which can rotate 360 degrees.
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This little trick allows it to clear a 50-meter (164-foot)-wide channel, even though it only has a breadth of 20.5 m (67 ft), and a length of 76 m (249 ft). It can break through ice up to 0.6 meter (2 ft) thick when moving sideways, or 1 meter (3.3 ft) when going bow- or stern-first.
It headed out from the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard on March 6th for its first sea trial, which lasted a couple of days. Plans call for it to be delivered to the client later this spring (Northern Hemisphere), after which it will be used for icebreaking, rescue and oil-spill combating operations in the Gulf of Finland.
Source: ArctechView gallery - 4 images