Xuelong 2 sets sail for the Antarctic

China's first domestically-built icebreaker has embarked on a 162-day expedition together with the original Xuelong.
Xuelong 2 sets sail for the Antarctic
Shi Yumeng / Ti Gong

Xuelong 2 berths at its home port in Shanghai.

Xuelong 2 sets sail for the Antarctic
Shi Yumeng / Ti Gong

Xuelong 2 sets sail from Shanghai.

Xuelong 2 sets sail for the Antarctic
Shi Yumeng / Ti Gong

The ship's crew prepares for the polar expedition.


China’s first domestically-built icebreaker set sail on its first Arctic research expedition from Shanghai on Wednesday morning.

Xuelong 2 departed its home port on the Yangtze River in the Pudong New Area just after 10am. It will travel 29,760 nautical miles over 162 days.

The vessel will berth at the southern coastal city of Shenzhen from October 13 to 15 and allow 1,200 visitors to have a free tour as a highlight of the 2019 China Marine Economy Expo. After this, it will set off to the Antarctic.

According to a press conference held by the State Oceanic Administration in July, Xuelong 2 will make its maiden voyage to Antarctica together with the original Xuelong, the only Chinese icebreaker in service, in the country's 36th research mission to the region.

Qin Weijia, head of the polar research office of the State Oceanic Administration, said at the conference that Xuelong 2 will break the ice ahead of Xuelong as it transports research material to the Zhongshan Station.

Smaller than its predecessor, Xuelong 2 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 up to 15 knots, with a range of 20,000 nautical miles on one load of fuel.

It's also the world’s first polar research vessel to have double-direction ice-breaking capabilities. It can turn and break 1.5-meter ice, plus 20cm snow, at a speed of 2 to 3 knots.

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