For my sins over the 20 years before I retired I led training courses in may parts of the world – UK, Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Mexico. With up to 20 people on a five day course and especially where the candidates were from different companies the initial problem was to get them to talk to one another. We had to devise a means of breaking the ice.
We often posted an introductory slide of an icebreaker in the Arctic with people standing on the pack ice.
Hence my topic for this week:
The earliest icebreakers used by the Russians in the Arctic and on Siberian rivers were called kochi or iceboats. The rounded body lines of a koch allowed the boat to be pushed upwards out of the ice and to rest on the surface.
The first steam powered icebreaker was a wooden paddle steamer with a strengthened hull intended to break ice in the harbour at Philadelphia in 1837.
City Ice Boat No. 1
The first European steam-powered icebreaker and the first ever icebreaker with a metal hull was the Russian Pilot built in 1864. The Pilot has been featured on a Russian postage stamp.
The Pilot had all the main features present in the modern icebreakers, and that's why it is often considered the first true icebreaker.
However it is a ship built in England for the Russians that is considered the first modern polar icebreaker:
The Yermak was built by Armstrong Whitworth in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1898. The Yermak was able to run over and crush pack ice.
Of course later ships were diesel powered and now nuclear powered icebreakers are in use.
During the war the Germans used ships like the Hessen as icebreakers in the Baltic Sea.
This photo was taken from the battleship Scharnhorst in January 1940. The Hessen was later used as a target ship for the Scharnhorst.
More at : Sepia Saturday 59