The use of Lagrangian platforms and of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) in oceanography has increased rapidly over the last decade along with the development of improved biological and chemical sensors. These vehicles provide new spatial and temporal scales for observational studies of the ocean. They offer a broad range of deployment and recovery capabilities that reduce the need of large research vessels. This is especially true for ice-covered Arctic ocean where surface navigation is only possible during the summer period. Moreover, safe underwater navigation in icy waters requires the capability of detecting sea ice on the surface (ice sheets). AUVs navigating in such conditions risk collisions, RF communication shadowing, and being trapped by ice keels. In this paper, an underwater sea-ice detection apparatus is described. The source is a polarized continuous wave (CW) diode-pumped solid-state laser (DPSS) module operating at 532 nm. The detector is composed of a polarizing beam splitter, which separates light of S and P polarization states and two photodetectors, one for each polarized component. Since sea-ice is a strong depolarizer, the ratio P/S is an indicator of the presence or absence of sea-ice. The system is capable of detecting sea-ice at a distance of 12m. This apparatus is designed to be used by free drifting profiling floats (e.g., Argo floats), buoyancy driven vehicles (e.g., sea gliders) and propeller-driven robots (e.g., Hugin class AUV).