The Mackinaw is propelled through the water by two Finnish azipods at the stern of the ship. An azipod is a propeller mounted on a pod that can be rotated 360 degrees to control the movement and direction of the ship. I took the photo at the right just before the ship was launched. You can see the two azipods in the picture turned toward each other, something I don’ think would happen under normal circumstances. Both pods are independently controlled from the pilot house; each of the two handles with the red stripes in the picture below controls one of the pods. In normal conditions, the pods are computer controlled. Manual control is use in tighter situations perhaps near a dock, or another ship, or breaking ice in a river. These along with bow thrusters at the other end of the ship, give the ship exceptional maneuverability. The pods can be turned toward the ship allowing the ship to go in reverse as easily and as fast as going forward. That is sometimes used when breaking ice.
They can also “walk the ship sideways” using both pods and the thrusters. They have received some strange looks when seen from the shore moving sideways in a channel. This is often done to give them a wider berth when they are trying to clear out broken ice.