What makes ships mysteriously slow down or even stop as they travel, even though their engines are working properly?
…In 1904, the Swedish physicist and oceanographer Vagn Walfrid Ekman showed in a laboratory that waves formed under the surface at the interface between the salt water and freshwater layers that form the upper portion of this area of the Arctic Ocean interact with the ship, generating drag.
This phenomenon, called dead water, is seen in all seas and oceans where waters of different densities (because of salinity or temperature) mix. It denotes two drag phenomena observed by scientists. The first, Nansen wave-making drag, causes a constant, abnormally low speed. The second, Ekman wave-making drag, is characterized by speed oscillations in the trapped boat. The cause of this was unknown.