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How a New Russian Icebreaker Slices Sideways Through Frozen Seas

  Debuting in the Gulf of Finland in early 2014, the Russian-owned ship will be the first to travel sideways through the frozen stuff. Although smaller than a normal icebreaker, its oblique angle of attack lets it carve a larger path—wide enough for commercial ships to follow. “You would conventionally need two icebreakers to make the same channel,” project manager Mika Willberg says. The vessel can even help with oil spills: The unique hull guides oily water into a hatch, where a skimmer tank separates the oil from the water. The Baltika can crack through ice about 2 feet thick, which makes it suitable for conditions in the Baltic Sea.

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