Third Pod from the Sun

Third Pod from the Sun

Ice: The ice ships of Project Habbakuk

July 29, 2022

Dive down into the freezing depths of Patricia Lake, in Alberta’s Jasper National Park, and you will find the wreck of the Habbakuk—a sixty-foot model battleship originally constructed of wood and ice.

This “berg ship” was the brainchild of the eccentric wartime genius Geoffrey Pyke. In 1943, the Allies were being hard pressed by German U-boats, and British and American leaders were desperate to gain the upper hand in the War of the Atlantic. Pyke’s idea was to construct a fleet of the huge ships, each 1,970 feet long and made from a mixture of ice and wood pulp called Pykrete. He claimed the ships were bulletproof and unsinkable. The project was approved by Winston Churchill himself, and Project Habbakuk was born.

The history of Project Habbakuk is more than a tale of unconventional ice engineering: it touches on theTitanic, the Bible and Superman.

This episode was produced by Jamieson Findlay and mixed by Collin Warren, with production assistance from Jace Steiner.