Monday, January 11, 2010

The Swedish icebreaker, Oden, made it into McMurdo today.  They have spent the last few days working their way through the sea ice from the ice edge – about 17 miles from town.  The Oden isn’t shaped as I envisioned it.  I expected a V hull, but it has a flat, sloping prow.  The captain gets up a little speed and momentum that propels the front of the ship onto the ice.  Then, the weight of the ship breaks up the ice it is resting on.  The break-up is aided by constantly pumping water onto the ice in front of the ship.  I’m not sure how or why this works, but a large volume of water shot onto the ice. The Oden progresses through the ice by going back & forth, back & forth, slowly advancing.

A nice ice-free channel is what I pictured, but that is not the case.  The channel behind the icebreaker is packed full of broken ice.  Eventually the ice will move out with the help of the currents and wind.

The Oden is over 100 meters long and 30 meters wide.  It is operated by the Swedish Maritime Administration and is also used as a research vessel.

The Oden in McMurdo Sound.

Just beyond Hut Point.  Discovery Hut in the foreground.

The Oden, next to the local pier.  The pier is actually sea ice covered with gravel and strengthened with cables.  The cables are frozen in the ice.

The channel of broken ice behind the icebreaker.

Awhile ago I wrote a blog on the South Pole Traverse.  They had some difficulties and delays, but did make it to the pole a while ago.  If you are interested it their adventure, the following website has the story and some great photos:


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