Published On: Sun, Jan 3rd, 2016

Habbakuk: The warship ship made of ice and wood pulp

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Habbakuk: The warship designed to withstand torpedoes 

Although the two world wars would be largely remembered for the atrocities and casualties to mankind, the period also witnessed some unique innovations. One such innovation was the Habbakuk- a warship created from wood pulp and ice that was stronger than concrete!

Project Habakkuk or Habbakuk (spelling varies; see below) was a plan by the British during the Second World War to construct an aircraft carrier out of pykrete (a mixture of wood pulp and ice) for use against German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic, which were beyond the flight range of land-based planes at that time. The idea came from Geoffrey Pyke, who worked for Combined Operations Headquarters.

A scientist named Geoffrey Pyke was the king of alternative ideas . One of his ideas was to build a 2,000 foot long, 300 foot wide and two million ton carrier. Pyke named his project Habbakuk, a biblical reference that seemed to mirror the project’s goal: “…be utterly amazed, for I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Habakkuk 1:5, NIV) Unlike in the Bible though, the ship’s name was spelled with two b’s and one k, which is thought to be simply a spelling error that was repeated so many times that it became official.

The ship was also to include 40 dual-barreled gun turrets, as well as other anti-aircraft guns, and an airstrip that could accommodate up to 150 fighter planes or twin-engined bombers.

While the plan to build Habakkuk was short-lived, its prototype was surprisingly resilient. It took three hot summers to completely melt the smaller version of the boat.

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