Port Weller Builds Icebreaking Cargo Vessel To Travel Through Ice Up To Two Feet Thick

The M/V Arctic is an unusual ship with a historic role to play in the development of the Canadian Arctic.

For the first time in Canada, and quite possibly in the world, an icebreaking cargo vessel has been built to travel through ice up to 2 feet thick at a constant speed and with stop-go capability in much thicker ice. At the present time, the M/V Arctic is only exceeded in strength by Canada's most powerful icebreakers.

The new ship is designed to operate without icebreaker support for four to six months of the year in those portions of the Canadian Arctic where commercial development has begun. Until now, the operating season for conventional ships has been restricted to six weeks or less. The M/V Arctic is also designed for overseas trade, as well as the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Upper Great Lakes after the Seaway has closed for the season.

Following design studies and model testing by Camat International Transportation Consultants Ltd. of Mississauga, an order was placed with Port Weller Dry Docks of St. Catharines, a division of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. of Toronto. In addition to being low bidder on the $39- million contract, Port Weller has had considerable experience in building ice-strengthened ships.

Special features have been incorporated into the M/V Arctic to fit her for her demanding role, and to comply with Canada's Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Regulations. One of these is her double hull throughout the entire ship providing additional strength, and as a precaution against the spillage of fuel oil should the outer hull be ruptured.

A system of compressed air generated aboard ship ejects bubbles through a series of openings along both sides of the ship below the waterline. The air bubbles will serve to reduce the friction of ice on the ship's hull. A ducted controllable-pitch propeller system will provide additional thrust for the Arctic's 14,770-bhp engine.

An ice-testing laboratory has been installed so that technicians aboard ship may record ice pressure on the hull. This information will be valuable in the design of future ships for Arctic work.

While the M/V Arctic will not carry a helicopter, a landing area has been provided on the main deck so that personnel and supplies may be flown to and from the ship, should the need arise.

The ship was built for Canarctic Shipping Company Limited of Ottawa, with funding provided by the Royal Trust Company.

Canarctic is a joint venture between Transport Canada, with 51 percent of the shares, and three firms, Federal Commerce and Navigation Ltd. of Montreal, Canada Steamship Lines Limited of Montreal, and Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. of Toronto.

The ship will be managed and operated by North Water Navigation Ltd. of Montreal, a joint venture of the three shipping companies in the Canarctic consortium.

Other stories from July 1978 issue


Maritime Reporter

First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.