Shanghai Municipal Government

07/12/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/11/2019 19:29

City-built polar research vessel is set for voyage

XueLong 2, or Snow Dragon 2, the first polar research vessel built by China, was officially handed over yesterday in Shanghai.

The vessel, China's Ministry of Natural Resources calls a breakthrough in supply and support of polar research, was designed by the No. 708 Research Institute of China State Shipbuilding and the Finnish Aker Arctic Technology and built by Jiangnan Shipyard Group in Shanghai. The project took about 10 years to complete.

The ship is 122.5 meters long and 22.3 meters wide, with a draught of 7.85 meters and displacement of about 14,000 tons. It can cruise at up to 15 knots with a range of 20,000 nautical miles on one load of fuel. It needs to resupply every 60 days.

It is the first polar research vessel to have double-direction ice-breaking capability and can break 1.5-meter ice plus 20cm snow at a speed of 2 to 3 knots in either direction, enabling it to navigate all polar areas.

'The vessel is the top-performing icebreaker in China, although there are more powerful ones in other countries, but as an icebreaker with research functions, it's one of the very best,' said Wu Gang, designer of the vessel.

Smaller than its predecessor Xuelong, it is more versatile in its research capacity with more than 580 square meters of laboratory space.

An integrated research system serves multiple scientific research disciplines including ocean physics, ocean chemistry and biodiversity.

When surrounded on all four sides by ice, equipment can be lowered into the ocean through a square well in the middle of the vessel known as the 'moon pool' which is 3.2 meters in length on each side.

Xuelong 2 also has an underwater sonar which can detect icebergs 5 kilometers ahead.

Powerful thrusters at both bow and stern mean it can keep its position in 1.8-meter waves and currents of 1.5 knots.

The vessel can safely navigate winds of up to 37 meters per second.

It also has many green features. A selective catalytic reduction system processes nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust and reduces them to non-pollutants nitrogen and water.

For researchers often parted from their families, life on Xuelong 2 is comfortable. The whole vessel is insulated. It has a gym, reading room and telemedicine diagnostic system.

It carries about 600 tons of drinking water, much more than its predecessor.

After fine-tuning of its research equipment, the vessel will join Xuelong on China's 36th research mission to the Antarctic.

Qin Weijia, head of the polar research office of the State Oceanic Administration, said Xuelong 2 will break the ice ahead of Xuelong to transport a large amount of research material to the Zhongshan Station.

Xuelong is often unable to dock close to the station because it can only break ice of 1 meter.

Next year, the new vessel will join two ships from Germany and Russia in the Arctic.

Xuelong 2 is China's fourth polar research vessel after Xiang Yang Hong 10, Ji Di and Xuelong. China now has four research stations in the Antarctic with a fifth being built, and one at the North Pole.