As Barents Observer reported, the Chinese icebreaker “Xuelong”, also known under the name “Snow Dragon”, last week completed its first trip through the Northern Sea Route, making it from the Chukchi Sea in the east to the Barents Sea in the west. Now on return voyage, she heads for the shortcut straight towards the North Pole.
After a four days long visit to the towns of Reykjavik and Akureyri in Iceland, the icebreaker is now heading back to Asia. According to Arctic Portal, the vessel is aiming to use the so-called “future central Arctic shipping route” across the Arctic Ocean on its way to Shanghai. The plan is to break the ice at the North Pole in an effort to show that it is indeed possible to sail an icebreaker through the route.
The vessel is currently on its way into the Barents Sea, the icebreaker’s special website shows.
The M/V Xue Long is an A2-class ice-breaker with capability of breaking ice of 1.1 meters thickness. It was originally built as a cargo ship for Polar regions by the Kherson Shipyard in Ukraine. After modifications in 1994 it became China’s first research ice-breaker. The vessel belongs to the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic research expeditions (CHINARE).
The vessel is 167 meters long and 22.6 meters wide. It has a full-loaded draft of 9 meters, a full-loaded displacement of 21,250 tons and a cruising radius of 12,000 nautical miles. Two helicopters can be carried at the same time.