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Heeling tanks on Oden.

Rocking the Boat

“When the ice gets tough, the best weapon we have is the ship’s heeling tanks,” said Thomas Strömsnäs, second officer of the icebreaker Oden, which carried WHOI researchers through the icepack of the Arctic Ocean for studies of the Gakkel Ridge in July 2007. The heeling tanks on the port and starboard sides of the ship can be filled with up to 400 tons of water apiece; that water can be shifted from one side of the ship to the other through the large-diameter pipe (above Strömsnäs). When the extra water is added to the weight of the ship, the icebreaker lists back and forth, from one side to the other, which helps break ice. The ship can be set to do this automatically, something the crew calls the "duck walk."  “You can hear the hum of the water going through the heeling system, so you can keep track of what’s happening outside and know there is tough ice, even when you’re in bed.”
(Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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