China’s new icebreaker sets course for its first Arctic voyage

The Xue Long II, which entered service in 2019, completed an Antarctic trip earlier this year.


A January 7, 2020, file photo shows the Xue Long II during the 36th Antarctic expedition of China. (Liu Shiping / Xinhua / Latin America News Agency via Reuters)

China’s new icebreaker Xue Long 2 left its home port of Shanghai earlier this week on a 12,000-nautical-mile voyage — its first ever to the Arctic.

The 122-meter-long vessel entered service in 2019. Earlier this year, the ship completed a voyage to the Antarctica.

The expedition is organized by the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources, the news agency Xinhua reports. The ship is expected back in Shanghai in late September.

The researchers on board the ship will conduct studies of the biological diversity of Arctic ecosystems, including the acidification of waters and polluters in rest such as the Chukotka plateau, the Canadian basin and central parts of the Arctic Ocean.

The expedition will help expand the research knowledge of China about climate change in the Arctic and prepare the ground for a solid foundation for more efficient reaction to global climate change, Xinhua reports.

The Xue Long 2 is owned and managed by the Chinese Polar Institute. The institute has  been instrumental in all of the country’s previous 10 research expedition to the Arctic.

Until now, it has been sister ship Xue Long (Snow Dragon) that has been employed on the Chinese Arctic expeditions, which have proceeded along Russia’s Northern Sea Route, across the central Arctic Ocean and through Canada’s Northwest Passage.