“China Navy deploys its Type 272 icebreaker ship Haibing to carry out 84th ice survey mission”

Chinese Navy Type 723 icebreaker ship Haibing. (Picture source China MoD)

Navy Recognition reports,

“According to information published by the Chinese Ministry of Defense on January 29, 2021, the Chinese Navy sent the Type 272 icebreaker ship Haibing (Sea Ice, Hull 722) to the Bohai Sea and the northern waters of the Yellow Sea to perform the 84th ice survey mission on January 25, 2021.”

The accompanying photo (above) is the first I have seen of this ship. An older Global Security post has a description of the vessel and its activities.

Reportedly its specifications include:

  • Displacement: 4,800 tons (probably a light displacement)
  • Length: 103.1 meters (338′)
  • Beam: 18.4 meters (60.4′)
  • Speed: 18 knots

It appears to be smaller, longer, and narrower than the Wind Class icebreakers the US built in the 1940s.

  • Displacement: 6,500 tons full load
  • Length: 269′ (82m)
  • Beam: 63.5′ (19.5m)

Length to beam ratio is narrow for an icebreaker at 5.6:1. There is a finer taper on the bow and stern than you might expect.

Length to beam ratio for US icebreaker designs are:

  • Wind Class: 4.24
  • Glacier: 4.18
  • Polar Star: 4.77
  • Polar Security Cutter: 5.23

Only the PSC, designed for long open ocean voyages, comes close.

This Chinese icebreaker entered service just over five years ago. It is one of a class of two, is unarmed, and it appears its operations have been confined to the Yellow Sea and the Bohai Sea, a Westward extension of the Yellow Sea. It almost certainly has less than 20,000 HP so would be considered a light icebreaker by the USCG.

2 thoughts on ““China Navy deploys its Type 272 icebreaker ship Haibing to carry out 84th ice survey mission”

  1. It’s almost ridiculous how little we know about these ingeniously-developed PLAN icebreakers. There are no photographs of scale models or built ships that would show the underwater hull or the number and type of propellers. I tried googling with Chinese keywords and even watched some Chinese-language news reports about the vessels, hoping to spot clues about their technical characteristics.

    Based on this high-resolution photograph, it appears that the Type 272 has two main diesel engines (based on the number of exhaust pipes). The bracket in the stern near the waterline could indicate a twin-shaft configuration, but it’s impossible to say whether they are driven mechanically through gearboxes or by electric propulsion motors. I’d be surprised if they managed to fit twin rudders as well; there’s probably a single rudder at centerline. The only reason why the vessel appears to have acceptable turning capability in ice is that the waterline geometry resembles that of 1950s and 1960s icebreakers with tapering bow and stern, and short parallel midship.

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