Ice research
facilities for
more than 25

The Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA) has been operating ice research facilities for more than 25 years.

An air forced cooling system generates air temperatures as low as -20°C, by which the NaCl-doped water freezes at a rate of about 2 mm/hour.

The mechanical ice properties of the model ice are correctly scaled in order to simulate the natural icebreaking processes. An advanced technique to improve the mechanical ice properties was developed and patented by HSVA. 

A motor-driven carriage runs up to 3 m/s and provides a towing force of 50 kN. A transverse carriage is installed to the main carriage. Both carriages together make it possible to run offshore structures or floating vessels in a combined and computer-controlled x-y-motion (planar motion) through the ice sheet. Therefore, it is possible to simulate, ice drift scenarios with slow or rapid ice drift direction changes, whereby the model ice sheet is kept stationary.

In addition, the ice tank can be used as shallow water facility. 


Icebreaking ships:

  • Resistance tests
  • Self-propulsion tests
  • Manoeuvring tests
  • Ice management in rivers and inland waterways

Structures in Ice

  • Ice forces on fixed structures (vertical or conical shaped)
  • Mooring forces on floating structures
  • Global ice forces on artificial islands
  • Ice forces on offshore loading terminals
  • Ice accumulation and ice pile-up on artificial islands and arctic harbours
  • ice drift scenarios

Shallow water tests in waves


  • Main carriage equipped with transverse carriage
  • Service carriages above water as well as underwater
  • Observation windows in the tank bottom
  • Air forced cooling system
  • Wave maker at short side
  • Beach for wave damping
  • Ice mechanics laboratory

  • Tank length: 78.00 m
  • Tank breadth: 10.00 m
  • Tank depth: 2.50 m
  • Shallow Water Bottom: Adjustable over length and depth
  • At the end of the ice tank a deep water section of 12 m x 10 m x 5 m is available. 

  • Ice freezing rate: 2 mm/hour
  • Air temperatures as low as -20°C
  • NaCl-doped water

According to Froude's and Cauchy's model laws the following ice conditions can be simulated in the tank:

  • Level ice
  • Rafted ice
  • Pressure ice ridges
  • Broken ice
  • Rubble ice pack ice
  • Snow covered ice

Main carriage

  • Speed range: 1 mm/s <-> 3000 mm/s
  • Towing capacity: 50 kN

Transverse carriage

  • Static Load capacity (horizontal): 5 kN
  • Static Load capacity (vertical): 10 kN
  • Load application on vertical lever: up to 1.2 m
  • Maximum driving force : 3 kN, at speeds up to 0.5 m/s

  • Flap type wave maker
  • Maximum significant wave height 0.17 m
  • Manufacturer: VTI
  • Wooden beach on opposite site for wave damping
  • Generation of long crested regular waves, irregular waves, wave packets, user-defined wave trains and spectra

  • Force and pressure transducers
  • Accelerometer
  • Wave probes
  • Torque and thrust dynamometer
  • 6 component force balances
  • Optical tracking system
  • Video equipment for above water and below water observations
  • Data acquisition system