China's Xuelong 2 icebreaker to be completed next year

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/29 14:18:40

To allow China to explore Antarctic, create marine routes

China's first homemade polar icebreaker Xuelong 2 docked in Shanghai on Wednesday, which scientists said will power China to explore the Antarctic and create marine trade routes.

The icebreaker ("Snow Dragon" in Chinese) was sent to the Jiangnan Shipyard Group in Changxing island in Shanghai on Wednesday, according to a statement from the official Polar Research Institute of China.

The domestically-built icebreaker will be assembled through computer modeling. The ship's body will be separated into 114 segments and then combined into 11 blocks. The blocks will be assembled starting from the stern to the bow and from the bottom, the statement reads.

During the docking process, the ship will be fitted and equipment installed. After the Xuelong 2 undocks on August 28 as expected, it will undergo interior decoration, system adjustments and dock trial. It is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019, it said.

Zhang Xia, director of polar strategy at the institute, told the Global Times that "the new vessel will help break the bottleneck of China's polar expeditions" since the current Xuelong is far from enough  to launch scientific research in both North and South poles.

It will be an integrative vessel but its main mission will be to conduct scientific research, unlike the current one which is mainly used as transportation, he said. Zhang, however, believes China needs at least three icebreakers to meet current polar expeditions needs.

A Finland-based company provided the new vessel's basic design but domestic design institutes and companies completed the details, production and review, Wu Gang, the chief designer of the vessel and an expert from the 708th Research Institute of China State Shipbuilding Corporation, told the Science and Technology Daily.

In the North Pole where nearby countries including Russia and Canada are committed to exploring and taking a share of the pie, the Xuelong 2 will provide China the power to do so, Zhang said.

By running through the central zone of the North Pole, where climate change research remains absent, the new vessel could fill in the academic blanks. The vessel will also help create marine trade routes in the Arctic region within the "Ice Silk Road" initiative, linking nearby countries, said Zhang.

In the Antarctic, the Xuelong 2 will provide supplies for scientists in expeditions together with Xuelong, and extend annual operations in the region, Zhang added. It will install a hole for unmanned detection equipment in the ice and will carry two helicopters, he said.

The Xuelong 2 will use two-way icebreaking technology, the first such polar icebreaker in the world, Science and Technology Daily reported.

Newspaper headline: Xuelong 2 icebreaker nears completion


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