China is preparing to build a second polar expedition vessel independently, said Wei Wenliang, head of the Polar Expedition Office under the State Oceanic Administration on Wednesday.
Wei announced the news at a press conference held in Shanghai prior to the expedition of Snow Dragon on Oct. 11, which is also China's 26th Antarctic exploration.
Currently China has only one polar expedition vessel, the so-called “Snow Dragon.” It was built by the Kherson Shipyard, Ukraine with ice-breaking capability level B1.
The new ice-breaker will have a tonnage less than the snow dragon, but a faster speed and more powerful ice break capacity. It will take up most of the research tasks while the snow dragon will be more responsible for transportation of staff and materials.
The ice-breaker is the key to conduct polar expeditions in the extreme weather in polar areas. Russia, Canada, United States of America, Finland, Sweden, Norway all have strong fleets of ice-breakers.
According to Wei, sea-route across the polar areas will be open soon with the global warming effect. There will be a great demand for vessels with ice-breaking capacity in the shipping market. Building the polar expedition vessel will not only strengthen China in conducting polar research but also help increase its capacity in building ice-breaking vessels.