Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Icebreaker Oden

We get planes in through the entire summer season. We start to take them for granted and I even disassociate them with the civilization they are going back to. I think that might be because I'm not going back anytime soon, I'm not sure. Others might do it too though. We stop getting excited when we see planes. However, when the first ship comes in of the season, everyone seems to be out watching. The ship is not only coming from the outside world, but it is also breaking up the sea ice which leads to us eventually seeing open water. For the few days up the ice breakers docking, everyone was speculating how long it would take to break through the ice all the way to base.

The Oden icebreaker in the distance

The icebreaker a few days later

The day of docking.

The orange pole in the lower right corner is part of the pier system where the ship will come into dock. The actual ice pier is below the picture.

I was fortunate to be able to volunteer to be a line handler. Line handlers help all the vessels that come into port to tie up. We were supposed to get the ice breaker, a fuel ship, a cargo ship, a research ship, and four expedition cruise ships. It's a lot of fun to do something outside of your normal job. If we are lucky, we line handle during our regular hours so we get out of work. It also gives us a chance to get up close and personal with the ship. For our first line handling experience, it also gave me a chance to see my second and third penguins of the season.

Two adelie penguins came in to see what all the ado was about.

Those same two adelie penguins beside the ice pier trying to a closer look of the action.

The Oden in front of Mt. Discovery.

The Oden finally getting close to the ice pier and these two unsuspecting penguins.

One Adelie penguin finally takes notice of the large ship.

While the one is still taking notice of the ship coming, the other one decides to start fleeing.

Run away, run away!

With good reason, the penguins fled the scene. The Oden uses water jets and sheer might to break up the ice and move it out of the way.

The aftermath of the Oden coming into port.

Just after the Oden made port, they used loaders/bulldozers to move all the ice back into the ocean, which would leave the ice pier free for vehicles and cargo. A lot of the line handlers left without even touching a line because there were so many of us. They only had a few lines and the ice pretty much kept the ship in its place. Either way, it was still fun to get out and play.

Since its first docking, the Oden has come in and out a few times and widened the channel. However, even after the first trip it opened things so much you could see the channel via satellite.

Satellite imagery of the ice breakes path.



  1. You wrote about water jets and sheer force... what does that mean? I'm assuming that's through some sort of system pulling water up from under the boat and shooting it forward. Is the water heated to help break up the ice or is the force of the jet enough? And what kind of horsepower are we talking about here?

  2. Finally some penguins!!!!! The ice breaker looks like the kind they use on the Great Lakes. Interesting.

  3. Very cool. I would have volunteered to be a line handler just to get up-close an personal with those ships.

    I wonder, did the Penguins flee light the knights in Monty Python's search for The Holy Grail? ;)

    Run away! Run away!

  4. Fraggle,
    Unfortunately, I missed the tour of the Oden so I don't have any first hand information for you.

    However, here is what I did find or know. The coast guard used to come down to ice break for us. They stopped this year for some reason so the Oden was going solo. They did great, some say even better.

    The Oden is a Swedish icebreaker, built in 1988. It is 107.8 m long. Its propulsion is 24,500hp and can reach a speed of 16 knots in open water. It can hold enough supplies and fuel to stay at sea for 100 days which allows it to range 30,000 nautical miles. If it didn't need to avoid land, that should let it get around the Earth once. It can break ice 1.9 m thick ice at 3 knots. It holds 15 to crew to run her and can take up to 65 additional passengers. On her way down, she brought scientists.

    I don't believe the water is heated. They use too much of it heat it in time. If you look at those pictures, those water jets were pretty much on the entire time that she was ice breaking. So, water jets are I assume cold water propelled out of the boat. Sheer force refers to the ship simply ramming ice that isn't breaking up when the water jets hit it.

    When fleeing, the penguins would have had coconuts if they could carry them to make it a little more Monty Python. Way to pick up on the reference.