Icebreakers and ice-capable ships are all about extremes. Their strength, power, missions, equipment – and above all the seas they operate in – are like nothing else on Earth.

Providing support to ships in ice-infested waters, often at temperatures as low as -50 C, icebreakers are essential to safe navigation and commerce in waters such as those in eastern Canada, the Great Lakes and the Baltic Sea.

Ice-capable ships are heavy, expensive and highly powered vessels compared with their open-water equivalents. They, therefore, must be able to take ice impact loads and need the power and strength to move through ice without breaking down or getting stuck. We design for ferry systems, coast guards, navies and cruise ship lines.

Our proven portfolio of ice-strengthened vessels includes:

  • research vessels
  • offshore support and patrol vessels
  • RoRo/RoPax ferries
  • general cargo
  • cruise ships

Vard Marine’s icebreaker designs for the Arctic, Antarctic and sub-polar regions place us at the forefront of this field.

Starboard view of Kontio icebreaker in Finland and port side view of Canmar Kigoriak in ice
United States Coast Guard Cutter Healy icebreaker design by Vard Marine operating five cranes in the Sea of Labrador
CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, USCGC Healy, and CCGS John G. Diefenbaker (VARD 9 206) icebreakers docked near ice

Vard Marine’s icebreaker design philosophy

Most importantly, we work closely with our clients to ensure our designs reflect their requirements and priorities. Our designs for icebreakers, therefore, focus on safety, efficiency, environmental protection, and the comfort of all persons on board.

We design ships uniquely fit for our client’s purpose and delivers the utmost value for the cost.

Our collaborative approach

When you engage Vard Marine, you become part of an integrated project team that brings together our technical understanding and experience with your in-depth knowledge of the mission at hand.

We turn to our extensive collection of full- and model-scale performance data on our own designs as well as ships built by Vard Group, Fincantieri and many other icebreakers to identify the right set of features for your vessel. We assess relative costs and capabilities of each feature and variable, which consists of fuel consumption and length of mission. 

Additionally, we also look at the potential impact on local environments and communities to minimize harmful effects.

This collaborative approach ensures a design with the greatest operational benefit, that adheres to shipyard construction requirements and can be produced within your framework of time and cost.

Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker research vessel in ice while scientist/man kneels down infront
USCGC Mackinaw Heavy Icebreaker launching with a big splash with tug boat assisting
Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker research vessel in McMurdo Sound Antarctica
USCGC Mackinaw and Arctic Ivik icebreakers breaking ice with helicopter deployed near Arctic Ivik

We don’t stop there

Moreover, our expertise is sought out by regulatory bodies to consult on standards and regulations for polar shipping, such as the IMO Polar Code, Canadian Arctic Shipping regulations (ASPPR) and the Arctic Council.

Local stakeholders (such as the Inuit Circumpolar Council) and NGOs (such as the WWF) also seek our advice on environmental protection, sustainable development and other policy and regulatory issues affecting the polar marine environment.

Ready to talk?

Contact the Vard team and make your next project your most successful one.