China Signs Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Deal
A cooperation deal signed between China National Nuclear Corporation and China State Shipbuilding Corporation will accelerate the development of nuclear-powered icebreakers and maritime nuclear power platforms, according to local media reports.
China currently has one diesel-powered icebreaker, the Ukraine-built Xue Long, but another has been slated for construction. The new nuclear-powered design for the Polar Research Institute vessel is expected to cost more than a billion yuan ($154 million) and take around two years to build. Construction is expected to begin at the end of 2016.
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.
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.
China’s interest for the Arctic has steadily increased over the last decade, and the country is now an observer to the Arctic Council. In northern Russia, Chinese investments are seen in both Yamal LNG and other petroleum projects.