Today's largest cargo ships can exceed 130 feet—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 251 feet long with a 21 foot draught and 1,150 ton displacement. Three main generators, each producing 3,000 kW (4,000 hp) provide a top speed of 14 knots and service range of 4500 nautical miles. Unlike conventional icebreakers that plow their bows onto and through ice sheets, the Baltika employs three 2.5 MW azimuth thrusters to push the entire side of the triangular ship at a 50-degree angle onto the ice, punching open a 160-foot wide channel in its wake. These vessels are rated to crush up to 3.3 feet of ice continuously while cruising at 3 knots and up to 5 feet of ice with minor structural modifications.
Aside from escort duties, the Baltika can play a variety of other roles. It can clear floes from harbors and the surrounding coastline, tow disabled vessels, assist in rescue and slavage operations—even help clean up oil spills by sweeping the vertical side of the asymmetric hull about in the water, funneling the slick into an on-board skimmer. [Wired - Wikipedia - RT News]