Icebreaker technology has undergone significant advances over the last 25 years. This development have led to building of new generation icebreaking fleet: both icebreakers and ice capable cargo vessels. This article will concentrate on some key aspects in designing of optimum propulsion system for icebreaker.

This paper will present Finnish Icebreaker Polaris propulsion system, which is based on well-proven podded propulsion. Icebreaker Polaris applies novel three propulsion unit concept, where one 6.0 MW unit is at the bow and two 6.5 MW units at the stern. The icebreaker is the first with pod unit at the bow and it will considerably enhance vessel's maneuverability and icebreaking operations.

During the shipbuilding period extensive ice load measurement system was installed on the bow and the other stern mounted Azipod units. The measurement data is currently collected and analyzed for research and development purposes.

Icebreaker Polaris was delivered September 2016 from Arctech Helsinki Shipyard. The first operational experience was gathered during winter period 2016–2017 in the Northern Baltic Sea ice conditions. This paper will highlight some measurement results of propulsion system behavior during the ice tests. The full-scale ice operation data collected in Baltic conditions can be further utilized in development vessel and its propulsion system of heavy polar icebreaker. Paper will also present a case study of propulsion concept suitable for polar icebreakers.

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