Construction of China's first locally-built icebreaker began Tuesday in Shanghai, according to the Polar Research Institute of China.
The nuclear-powered polar research vessel, being built by Jiangnan Shipyard, is scheduled for delivery in 2019.
The new vessel will be 122.5 meters (400 feet) long and 22.3 meters wide, with a displacement of 13,990 tons and a navigation capability of 20,000 nautical miles. It will be able to break through ice 1.5 meters (five feet) thick at a maximum speed of three knots, will have both bow and stern icebreaking capability and will be able to accommodate up to 90 people. Bow- or stern-first operation will be achieved through the use of two ABB Azipod units with combined power of 15MW.
The $154 million vessel has been jointly designed by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation and Finland-based Aker Arctic Technology.
Currently, Xuelong (Snow Dragon) is China’s only polar research vessel and icebreaker. Xuelong is currently on China's 33rd Antarctic expedition. The vessel entered service in 1994 and can break ice 1.2 meters thick.
China commissioned its latest naval icebreaker, Haibing 722, in January. The vessel is assigned to the Chinese Navy's Northern Fleet to patrol the Bohai Sea.