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This ice-ship was a top-secret project of the British, America, and Canadian governments. It was given the code name “Habakkuk,” after a verse in the book of the Bible called Habakkuk: “Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Even now, people have a hard time believing that anyone really planned to build a giant ship out of ice.


Habukkuk was the idea of Geoffrey Pyke, a British inventor. In the winter of 1942, German boats and submarines were sinking many Allied ships. The situation looked so bad that any plan, no matter how crazy it might seem, would be considered. That is why Pyke's idea got so much attention. By freezing a mixture of water and wood pulp, Pyke created ice that was as hard as concrete yet still floated like normal ice. He called it “Pykrete.” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill supported the ideas, as did other British military men.


Pyke was inspired when he remembered that ice, in the right situations, was virtually indestructible. After the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in 1912, an international ice patrol had tried unsuccessfully to destroy icebergs in the shipping lanes. If only he could harness that power, Pyke thought.


Airplanes had limited range at the beginning of the Second World War, so a giant airfield floating halfway between North America and Europe would make it easier for planes to make the trip and to protect the thousands of ships making the journey.


Now they needed a place to build and test a small-scale version of Habakkuk. The Canadian government offered Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park, Alberta, as well as the services of Canadian conscientious objectors. This site was cold enough to make for better testing, and isolated enough to ensure secrecy. In a strange twist, pacifist COs would help build a fearsome instrument of war.

To get to the site the COs had to travel a distance in trucks.

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