China's homemade icebreaker makes maiden voyage to Antarctica

By Global Times – Xinhua Source:Global Times - Xinhua Published: 2019/10/15 18:47:49

People take photos beside China's first domestically built polar icebreaker Xuelong 2, which is open to the public, in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, on Monday. Photo: Xinhua

China's first domestically made polar icebreaker Xuelong 2, or Snow Dragon 2, started its maiden voyage to the Antarctic from the city of Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday.

Xuelong 2 will be making the country's 36th Antarctic expedition, during which its 413-member team will aim to grasp the impact of Antarctic changes on the world, improve China's ability to cope with climate change and increase participation in Antarctic global governance, said Qin Weijia, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, at a press conference held in Shenzhen, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Another icebreaker named Xuelong will also join the expedition, making it the first time that two polar icebreakers work together on a Chinese Antarctic expedition.

Visitors check out the team members' dormitory of China's 36th Antarctic expedition on Xuelong 2. Photo: Xinhua

Xuelong 2 will sail to the Zhongshan Station before conducting research in the Cosmonauts Sea and China's Great Wall Station. It is expected to return in late March 2020.

The icebreaker Xuelong will set sail from Shanghai on October 22 to the Zhongshan Station and then conduct a series of surveys and engineering projects in the Ross Sea and Amundsen Sea. It is expected to return in mid-April 2020.

The expedition will conduct multidisciplinary observations on the sea, atmosphere, ice shelf and biology. It will also carry out preliminary construction work on China's fifth Antarctic research station on Inexpressible Island.

A member of China's 36th Antarctic expedition team explains the functions of equipment on Xuelong 2 to visitors. Photo: IC

Compared with its predecessor Xuelong, Xuelong 2 is expected to perform better in icebreaking and expedition. It has two-directional icebreaking capabilities, with both its bow and stern able to continuously break ice as thick as 1.5 meters at a speed of 2-3 knots, according to its captain Zhao Yanping.

Equipped with a number of sensors, Xuelong 2 is able to acquire and process data from the whole vessel, which allows for a more intelligent expedition.

A helicopter from the Chinese National Antarctic Research Expedition (CHINARE) on Xuelong 2 Photo: IC

The two vessels are expected to arrive at the Zhongshan Station around November 25, where Xuelong 2 will carry out its icebreaking tasks while Xuelong will transport goods and personnel to the station.

In addition, the two vessels will work together in Antarctica's Prydz Bay to recover and deploy sea-based buoys, said Xu Shijie, leader of China's 36th Antarctic expedition.

Global Times - Xinhua

Crew members of Xuelong 2 wave upon arrival at a port in Shenzhen. Xuelong 2 sailed for Antarctica on its maiden voyage on Tuesday, together with another Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, in the country's 36th research mission to the region. Photo: Xinhua

Conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) extension and retraction system in the moon pool of Xuelong 2 can carry out sampling work in dense icy areas to collect and transfer data to the computers. Photo: IC



Newspaper headline: Journey to the south


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