Chinese icebreaker through Norwegian waters
The “Xuelong” is now for the first time sailing through the Barents Sea.
The Chinese icebreaker, also known under the name “Snow Dragon”, last week completed its first trip through the Northern Sea Route, making it from the Chukchi Sea to the Barents Sea. It is the first time that a Chinese vessels makes it through the route, the Xinhuanet.com reports.
The vessel is now making its way south into the Norwegian Sea, the icebreaker’s special website shows.
According to Yang Huigen, head of China's 5th Arctic expedition team, the voyage enabled the team to conduct Arctic research on the Atlantic sector of the Arctic and also opened up a transportation ocean route linking Asia and Europe.
The expedition team is planning to undergo further research on the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea, including releasing China's first observation buoy in the region, the website informs.
The “Xuelong” is China’s only icebreaker. It is a Vitus Bering-class vessel built at the Kherson yard in Ukraine in 1993. The ship carries a helicopter as well as an Arctic class autonomous underwater vehicle.
A second icebreaking vessel is in the pipeline. The Finnish Aker Arctic company was recently commissioned by Chinese authorities to design a polar research icebreaker. According to the yard, the vessel will be equipped with advanced scientific equipment, including equipment on marine geological and geophysical studies, and marine biological and ecological instruments. Also helicopters with associated systems will be provided, a press release reads. The vessel will be able to engage in studies of polar marine geology, marine gravity, as well as magnetic and seismic surveys.
The contract is worth about €5 million and includes the conceptual and basic design of the vessel, the company informs.
China has two research stations in Antarctica and one at Svalbard. The Svalbard station is called the Arctic Yellow River Station and was opened in 2008.