Iceberg Ship Habbakuk

The imagined Iceberg Ship Habbakuk.

The imagined Iceberg Ship Habbakuk.


1942: Hitler's U-Boats are ravaging merchant ships that Britain depends on for its survival. Enter a plan, for a gigantic warship, to help the Allies win the Battle of the Atlantic. It will be built in Canada and made from ... ice!  Richard Longley tells the story of iceberg ship Habbakuk, in all its icy eccentricity.

In late spring of 1940, nine and a half months after the war against Hitler began in Europe, the writing  was on the wall: France had fallen to the Germans and Britain was now on its own in the fight against Nazi Germany.

On June 18th 1940, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, stood in the House of Commons, and spoke of what would come next. That summer, the Battle of Britain began.  It was fought entirely in the air, the RAF - Britain's Royal Air Force - against the German Luftwaffe. In the midst of this, "Project Habbakuk" was born. A wild, some say crazy idea, for a gigantic warship the British could deploy in the Atlantic: an Aircraft Carrier, built of ice.

Iceberg Ship Habbakuk Image Gallery

Participants in the show

Andrew Brown
, Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University.

David Edgerton
, Hans Rausing Professor, Imperial College London.

Vice-Admiral Ralph Henness
y, Royal Canadian Navy (Retired).

Susan Langley, State Underwater Archaeologist, Maryland Historical Trust.

Henry Martens, Alternative Service Worker with Project Habbakuk at Patricia Lake, Alberta.

Bill Rawling, Historian, Department of National Defence, Canada.

Roger Sarty, Professor, Department of History, Wilfrid Laurier University
Director of Research, Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies.

David Zimmerman, Professor of Military History, University of Victoria.

Reading List

Brown, Andrew, J. D. Bernal, The Sage of Science, Oxford University Press, 2005.

Bryden, John, Deadly Allies, Canada'€™s Secret War, 1937-1947, Ch 6, Ships of Ice,
Toronto, McLelland & Stewart, 1989.

Cohen, John, Geoffrey Pyke, Man of Ideas,  New Scientist, 23 July, 1981, pp246-247.
Geoffrey Pyke, Man of Action, New Scientist, 30 July, 1981, pp302-303.
Cross, L. D., Codename Habbakuk: A Secret Ship Made of Ice, Victoria BC, Heritage House, 2012.

Edgerton, David, Britain's War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War, London, Allen Lane, 2011.

Gold, Lorne W
, The Canadian Habbakuk Project, Cambridge, International Glaciological Society, 1993.

Lampe, David, Pyke the Unknown Genius, London, Evans, 1959.

Langley, Susan B. M., Operation Habbakuk: A World War II Vessel Prototype, Canadian Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, vol 10, no. 2, 1986, pp119-131.

Perutz, Max, I Wish I'd Made You Angry Earlier, Oxford, 1998 Ch 7, Enemy Alien, pp73-108.

Perutz, Max, A Description of the Iceberg Aircraft Carrier and the Bearing of the Mechanical Properties of Frozen Wood Pulp Upon Some Problems of Glacier Flow, Cambridge, Journal of Glaciology. Vol.1 No.3 March 1948 pp 95-104.

Rawling, William, A Comic Interlude - Habbakuk.

Sarty, Roger, Canada and the Battle of the Atlantic, Canada, Department of National Defence, 1998.

Zimmerman, David
, Top Secret Exchange: The Tizard Mission and the Scientific War,
Montreal-Kingston, McGill-Queens, 1996.

Related Websites

The Ice Ship Fiasco by Charles Goodeve

Project Habbakuk - U-Haul SuperGraphics - Alberta

Pykrete: Ice Ships in the Rockies

The Royal Naval Museum - Project Habbakuk

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