China is planning to build its first domestically produced polar icebreaker ship to scale up its marine expeditions to the Arctic. Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard Co said the construction for a new ice breaker will start by the end of this year, state-run China Radio International reported.
‘Xuelong’, or Dragon Snow, is currently China’s largest polar icebreaker which was bought from a Ukrainian company in 1993.
China refitted it into a polar research vessel at a cost of 31 million yuan,(USD 4.6 million) and put it into service in place of the Research Vessel Jidi in 1994.
Xuelong has completed 32 expeditions in Antarctica and is now on its 7th Arctic expedition. With a length of 122.5 metres, the new home produced vessel will be smaller than the Xuelong but with stronger icebreaking power, the report said.
Xuelong can continuously break ice as thick as 1.2 metres at a sailing speed of 1.5 knots. While the new vessel is designed to break 1.5 meter thick ice at 2 to 3 knots sailing speed.