BEIJING, January 05, 16:41 /ITAR-TASS/. China intends to build a new icebreaker for its polar expeditions. The decision has already been approved at the government level and the project is being developed, the Xinhua news agency reports on Sunday.
The new icebreaker will be shorter than the veteran Xuelong (China’s only icebreaker), and “will be equipped with blades both at the bow and the stern, which will be able to open ice 1.5 meters thick,” it quoted Qu Tanzhou, director of the State Oceanic Administration’s Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration as saying.
He said it would be designed mainly for field research instead of transporting supplies. During the operation to rescue the ice-nipped Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy, Xuelong itself got stuck in Antarctic ice. Four-meter-thick ice prevents it from reaching open water, as the Chinese icebreaker can move only if ice is no thicker than 1.2 meters.
According to a Xinhua correspondent who is on board Xuelong, a blizzard on Sunday “left the deck extremely slippery and people could hardly work on it,” the news agency says. However, the stores of food and water are enough for a long period of time.
At the present time, the US has sent its icebreaker Polar Star to assist the Russian research ship and the Chinese icebreaker. It is expected to arrive there within a week.