Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Is it possible to build a ship out of ice? © Dan Bright

Is it possible to build a ship out of ice?

Published: 05th December, 2021 at 11:00
Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Iceberg ahoy… No, wait! Make that ice ship ahoy. Warming seas may make building seafaring ice vessels impractical but not impossible.

It is possible to build a ship out of ice but warming seas make it a bad idea. There is no escaping the fact that ice melts. During WWII, a British project called Habakkuk aimed to build an aircraft carrier made of ice, partly to overcome steel and aluminium shortages.


The team building the prototype in Canada strengthened ice by adding wood pulp to create pykrete, named after inventor Geoffrey Pyke. But they soon found that it needed an expensive refrigeration system, which required vast amounts of steel.

The project was abandoned but pykrete is used today to create ice domes and ice roads. It can be three times stronger than pure ice.

Read more:

Asked by: Helen Asquith, Great Yarmouth


To submit your questions email us at (don't forget to include your name and location)


Dr Emma Davies is a science writer and editor with a PhD in food chemistry from the University of Leeds. She writes about all aspects of chemistry, from food and the environment to toxicology and regulatory science.


Sponsored content