Feature 2 | RESEARCH AND SURVEY VESSELS New era for polar research vessels

Surging investment in bespoke ships is boosting science-led work in the Arctic and Antarctic, writes David Tinsley

The 122m Xue Long 2 will expand China’s scientific missions in the polar regions

Although the main focus for the ship’s

operations is expected to be the Antarctic, the vessel has been tailored for scientific missions and transport duties in both northern and southern polar latitudes, and she features a moon pool, aſt deck A-frame and wet and dry laboratories. She is laid out with accommodation for up to 90 scientists and crew. The scientific outfit will embrace

equipment and instrumentation for marine geological, geophysical, biological and ecological

research in addition

to climate change monitoring and hydrographic and seismic surveys. A box keel under the ship is intended to achieve a minimal disturbance of the water flow while fulfilling scientific tasks using bottom-mounted instruments, and minimising ice contact. Finnish know-how and innovation

research, against the backdrop of growing environmental and ecological concerns and the quest for greater understanding of the complex phenomena affecting planet Earth. Long-term strategic and commercial goals, though, also bear on the polar drive. The acceleration of interest finds


expression in recent years’ raſt of newbuild projects for heavily ice-strengthened, polar research and logistic vessels, determined in part by a pressing requirement to replace time-served polar-capable vessels. Advances in ship design, powering and

propulsion technology, operating and handling systems, data gathering, survey and scientific equipment, are being accessed by all concerned, making for highly sophisticated, bespoke newbuilds offering performance and capabilities in excess of those of the vessels that have nevertheless given stirling service over decades in extremely tough conditions.


olar regions are the focus of increasing attention by governments, mainly for scientific

Enter the snow dragon China’s programme for building influence in the polar regions reached an important stage six years ago when it succeeded in winning a seat as an observer on the Arctic Council. The country

subsequently launched a

project for the domestic construction of a large polar support vessel. The icebreaking newbuild has been

designed for research and logistic tasks in polar oceans, mainly Antarctica, where China maintains four permanent research stations. To be named Xue Long 2 (‘xue long’

translates as ‘snow dragon’), the 122m newbuild is to the account of China’s Polar Research Institute and is being completed by Jiangnan Shipyard in preparation for entry into regular service next year. As the first ever such vessel from China’s shipbuilding industry, she will complement the existing Xue Long, completed 26 years ago by Ukraine’s Kherson Shipyard.

in heavy ice-going vessels is amply reflected in Xue Long 2. Te conceptual and basic design was developed by Aker Arctic Technology, which also carried out model tests at its Helsinki ice laboratory, while ABB Marine supplied the propulsion system, incorporating two 7.5MW Azipod electric propulsors. Te four main gensets are driven by Wärtsilä 32-series,

vee-form medium-speed

engines, comprising two 16-cylinder and two 12-cylinder models. The PC3 ice-classed newbuild will

be able to continuously break level ice of 1.5m thickness with a 200mm snow covering, while sailing either ahead or astern at a speed of 2-3knots.

New ship for Chile A Chilean Antarctic research vessel was laid down at the ASMAR yard in Talcahuano last year,

reflecting the

country’s commitment to protecting and projecting its interests in the region. The project has been spurred by the

looming obsolescence of the 1969-built icebreaker Almirante Oscar Viel, which was acquired from Canada in 1995.

Offshore Marine Technology 2nd Quarter 2019

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