How To: Tow an Iceberg Pt.1

Georges Mougin tow iceberg newfoundland canada canary islands tugs 3DS dassault systèmes

I’ve already talked about it earlier (here): Georges Mougin has this crazy idea of bringing back an iceberg from Newfoundland, Canada to the Canary Islands. It would then provide fresh water to local people for much less money.

This is such a vast topic it would take ages (and very specific knowledge) to discuss it all. So I decided I would cover something easy, fun and surprising. Very surprising actually… 😉

Indeed, one of their main challenges was to test Mougin’s idea and its feasibility:

  • How many tugs would be needed?
  • How powerful would they need to be?
  • How much fuel would they consume?
  • In how much time?
  • Which route should they follow?
  • What time of the year?
  • What steering strategies would be appropriate?

In just a few clicks using CATIA Systems software, the 3DS team could enter the GPS coordinates corresponding to the starting location for the iceberg off Newfoundland (37°N, 15°30’W) and the end destination (the Canary Islands), choose a departure date for the convoy (say 3 February) and the number of tugs required to tow the iceberg, as well as their power (two tugs with 130 tonne traction for example), and even select the general steering strategy that would be adopted by the captain in real life (“full power towards its final destination”).

It is then possible to observe what happens at any instant, and analyse the causes and effects produced by the various parameters. The team eventually finalised an integrated drift model, designed to consolidate all criteria involved in the iceberg transportation operation, among them:Georges mougin ice dream iceberg tow tug newfoundland canada canary islands dassault systèmes

  • Meteorological and oceanographic data (sea currents, swell, winds, etc.) that the convoy could be subjected to at any time and in any location, and the impact of such data on its journey.
  • Physical phenomena, regardless of their complexity: the general drift of the iceberg and the convoy under the effect of the various natural forces (winds, currents, swell, etc.), the traction force generated by the tug and the resulting fuel consumption, the application of the phenomena of air and water drag with the iceberg and the tug, the Earth’s rotation, etc.

During the following posts, you will be surprised with the simulation results as they’re not what you could expect them to be. Stay tuned! 😉



cédric simard dassault systèmes 3DSCédric Simard is Project Director at Dassault Systèmes.




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    Hi Cedric
    I’m staying tuned to see the simulation!

  • John Fay

    Cedric: I have just recently turned my attention to the idea of towing an iceberg to where it is needed. I just came across your info. on Google. I know nothing about engineering but that never stopped me from thinking out of the box on projects. I will pass these thoughts on to you. I am sure you have already thought of these ideas but it can’t hurt to pass along.
    1. Place an insulated “blanket” atop the ice berg to reduce melting.
    2. Contrive a mechanism to capture the water from the melting ice berg (that part melting above the water line) en route and pump it to an adjoining tanker ship.

  • Hey John!

    I’m sure Cedric will give you his thoughts soon but first I wanted to thank you for your comment. It is indeed an out-of-the-box idea and every bit that can be added to the overall project is welcomed! 🙂

    Have you seen the Ice Dream documentary? It could give you further details on the project!


  • Cedric

    Hi John,
    Thanks for your interest. Actually, the emerged section is largely unaffected by the sun rays, thanks to the immense reflective powers of the iceberg’s immaculate white icy expanse.
    Regarding the water melting from the berg sides, it will be naturally used to form a cushion of water between the berg and the skirt during the journey, thereby insulating the berg from the currents, exploiting a principle not dissimilar to that of double-glazing.