The two polar icebreakers, Xue Long (Snow Dragon) and Xue Long 2, are working together for the first time during China’s 36th Antarctic expedition, with Xue Long 2 also being the first domestically built icebreaker.
Xue Long 2 was jointly designed by Aker Arctic Technology in Helsinki, Finland and the Marine Design and Research Institute of China (MARIC) in Shanghai, China. Construction began in 2016 at the China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, with the vessel delivered to the Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC) in July 2019.
Xue Long 2 is a Polar Class 3 vessel, measuring 122.5 metres long and 22.3 metres wide with a displacement of 13,996 tonnes and a navigation capability of 20,000 nm. She is the world’s first icebreaker capable of cutting through ice whilst moving forward or backwards, with this capability and advanced installed equipment significantly improving polar region research capabilities.
The 36th Antarctic expedition involves 413 scientists, researchers and support staff, with Xue Long 2 working from China’s research stations in Antarctica and South Africa to support scientific operations being undertaken by the expedition team.
A MacGregor project team has been involved in the Xue Long 2 project from the very early stage back in 2011, working collaboratively with the PRIC project team and MARIC to develop different technical solutions required to enable deck handling equipment to operate effectively at temperatures of -45° C.
MacGregor’s deck handling solution and scope of supply for Xue Long 2 comprises three offshore cranes, the research equipment deck handling systems, oceanographic winches, deck machinery and hatch covers. Spare parts and service support will also be provided to maximise the icebreaker’s operational availability.
“Integrated capabilities on safety, reliability and operational support were the main decision- making factors whilst selecting key equipment for this important project,” emphasised Mr Wang Shuoren, Political Commissar of Xue Long 2, Chief Technologist of Newbuild Icebreaker Engineering Department.
“We are very proud to be a part of the Xue Long 2 project and make our contribution to China’s polar research operations and, in so doing, look forward to further extending our collaborative relationship with the PRIC and MARIC,” says Jane Chen, Vice President, Strategy, Marketing & Communications; Head of China, MacGregor.