China’s first home-made polar research ship is set to carry a crew to the North and South Poles for scientific and logistic expeditions. The Xuelong 2 is expected to improve China’s ability to conduct inspections in polar areas, according to thepaper.cn.

Zhao Yanping, captain of Xuelong 2 told the Science and Technology Daily that compared to an earlier vessel, Xuelong 2 has greater structural strength that meets PC3 requirements, as well as two-way icebreaking ability, plus an average speed of about 2 to 3 knots.

It can all break 1.5 meters of ice and o.2 meters of snow, putting it in the league of mainstream medium-sized icebreakers around the world.

The original Xuelong 1. Photo: Polar Research Institute of China.

Authorities in China approved a project in June 2009 that saw a collaborated effort between foreign and Chinese companies in building one of the strongest icebreakers in the world.

The ship’s chief designer Wu Gang said the journey from conception to construction was like giving birth to a newborn baby. He said he found confusion, hardship and joy over the past 10 years developing the ship, so his emotions were difficult to express.

Wu told the press that the vessel – China’s first true icebreaker — has been subjected to a high standard. Its basic design was completed by foreign partner Aker Arctic Technology Inc, but scientific designs, construction tech and design and other components were all completed domestically.

The Xuelong 2. Photo: Polar Research Institute of China.
The Xuelong 2 on flat sea. Photo: Polar Research Institute of China.

Zhao Zhenhua, the chief engineer of Xuelong 2 said it took his team countless sleepless nights to compile 7,891 blueprints and many other research components for the new vessel.

To ensure the icebreaker can penetrate a substantial amount of ice, Xuelong 2 uses special steel compounds. The thickest part of the ship’s hull is 100mm, about 50% thicker than typical ship plates.

Zhao said that the first set of three-dimensional CNC bending technology in China was adopted for the ship’s construction.

Also, more than 7,000 “intelligent” sensory points were installed on the ship, which can collect friction data and other information to provide a reference for designs and manufacturing of new ships in the future.