Icebreaker returns from Antarctic expedition, China plans newbuilding
China's icebreaker Xuelong, or "Snow Dragon", returned to its Shanghai base after completing the country's 28th Antarctic expedition.
Xuelong, an A-2 class icebreaker capable of breaking ice 1.2 meters thick, left the port of Tianjin on Nov. 3, 2011, and covered an estimated 28,000 nautical miles over the 163-day mission.
During the expedition, Xuelong delivered supplies to the country's Antarctic stations, and scientists aboard conducted various scientific research tasks, including polar environmental survey and the installation of an Antarctica survey telescope.
Second ice-breaker under construction
China's second icebreaker is scheduled to be put into use in 2014 to better conduct polar researches alongside the current icebreaker Xuelong. Concept design of the new icebreaker has been completed and the program is going smoothly, said Weng Lixin, deputy director of the polar research office at the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).
The new icebreaker will be capable of breaking ice up to 1.5 meters thick, in comparison with the 1.2-meter icebreaking capacity of Xuelong, an A-2 class icebreaker, according to Weng.
With a tonnage of 8,000, the new vessel will have a cruising capacity of 20,000 nautical miles, and can work in water for up to 60 days with a top speed of 15 knots.