China to Build Nuclear Icebreaker, Ready in 2018

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Maritime Executive is reporting China will build a nuclear powered Polar Icebreaker.

“The vessel will feature higher ice capabilities, better research capabilities and be more comfortable and environmentally friendly than Xue Long. It is expected to be 122.5 meters (400 feet) long and will be able to break ice of up to 1.5 meters (five feet) thick at a speed of around two knots. It will be able to operate bow or stern first using two ABB Azipod units with combined power of 15MW.”

This is what the Coast Guard would call at best a medium icebreaker. 15MW or about 20,000 HP is far less than even the Healy’s 22.4 MW, but while we don’t expect a new icebreaker for a decade, they expect theirs will be finished in two years.

5 thoughts on “China to Build Nuclear Icebreaker, Ready in 2018

    • If that is the case, then the article is a bit confusing. It would also mean that there will be a new diesel-electric icebreaker followed by one or more nuclear icebreakers.

      • Now that I actually read the article and not just your blog post, I noticed that Marine Executive mixed the diesel-electric polar research vessel with the planned nuclear-powered icebreakers.

        The former has been in development since 2012 and the basic design is currently underway:

        http://akerarctic.fi/sites/default/files/page/fields/field_attachments/11_qin_laukia_0.pdf

        Here’s a bit better article of the planned Chinese nuclear-powered icebreakers:

        http://thebarentsobserver.com/arctic/2016/08/china-plans-sail-nuclear-arctic

        The “problem” with the Chinese is that if they set their mind on it, they can probably pull this feat off faster than we expect considering their industrial capabilities, so we can’t just dismiss this news with “yeah, right”. However, the price and construction time in Barents Observer’s article also seem to refer to the polar research vessel.

        As for the purpose of the icebreaker, it’s probably just as scientific as the Japanese whaling. I personally believe that the main purpose is to prepare for future high latitude transits outside the Russian territorial waters, removing the need to rely on their escort icebreakers.

      • Sooner or later we are going to see land rush in the Antarctic, The Chinese will want their share, undoubtedly based on their indisputable historic claims.

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