In episode 9 of Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho (宇宙よりも遠い場所), an icebreaker is shown breaking the ice.

From what I saw, the ship seems to lift itself up over the ice by shooting water out, as seen in these screenshots:

water gushing out from the ship

water gushing out - front view

I think the ship is trying to reduce its weight so that it floats and goes above the ice, then it can crush it with its weight. However, in an earlier shot, I saw that the ship is already partially on the ice:

plowing through the ice

So why does it still need to shoot out water?

Also, I know that the icebreaker in the anime is based on Shirase icebreaker, so I looked up videos on YouTube to see how it breaks ice IRL. As you can see at the beginning of this video, there isn't any water coming out of the ship. It just runs over the ice and the ice just breaks automatically.

Why is there a need for the water anyway? Is this just to make the scene more dramatic?


At the very beginning of that video, it isn't breaking any ice, it's just pushing the small fragments aside as it moves forward. If you watched more of the same video, you will see that it does shoot water.

It is equipped with what is known as a snow-melting water-sprinkler (融雪用散水装置). It is not a device to lift the ship up, but a device to melt snow. It shoots out pumped-up sea water to melt the snow on top of the the ice, reducing friction (and cushioning) between the ice and the ship, making it easier for the ship to break the ice.

Some references I used.
JMSDF Shirase page (JP)
Kamome propeller company, makers of the sprinkling system

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  • Is this device on other icebreakers as well? Or is it only on Shirase? – Sweeper Mar 3 '18 at 7:27
  • I'm no expert, but the only one I can be certain of is Sweden's Oden, seemingly to come with a similar water-spraying system. Canadian documents mention a water-wash system as well. – Jimmy Mar 3 '18 at 8:25

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