Lawson Brigham

China significantly upgraded its polar marine operations capacity with the launch of a second polar research ship, the Xuelong 2, on 10 September 2018. Construction began on the new ship in December 2016 at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai and this vessel is China’s first domestically-built polar research icebreaker; the ship is scheduled to come into service during 2019. The propulsion is diesel-electric and provides the ship with 15 megawatts of power (20,115 horsepower) to two Azipod propulsion units, or rotating, steerable pods. Xuelong 2 is a Polar Class (PC) 3 ship (the highest class in the international classification system is PC1 and the lowest is PC7) and is designed to break 1.5-metre thick ice moving at continuous speeds of two to three knots (with icebreaking capability both moving ahead and astern). Owned by the Polar Research Institute of China, the new ship can operate comfortably in both polar regions as a logistics-supply vessel and a research ship conducting a full range of oceanographic and surveying operations. The total complement is 90 researchers and crew.

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