The icebreaking vessel, estimated to cost around $150m with construction stretching two years, will be China’s second icrebreaking research ship after Xuelong. Xuelong was built in Ukraine in 1993 as an Arctic cargo ship before it was converted to a polar research vessel in the mid-1990s.
Jiangnan Shipyard, subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), will be one of the Chinese yards joining the bidding to build the icrebreaking vessel, according to China Daily.
Hu Keyi, technical director of Jiangnan Shipyard, was quoted saying that the new, environmentally-friendly ship will be designed from scratch in accordance with special polar research and supply requirements. The bidding process is also expected to be fierce especially at a time when the entire shipbuilding industry is suffering from a dearth of new orders.
“China has excess capacity in building conventional ships, but not in complex and high value-added ships. Adjusting production structure should be the key. The government should encourage domestic companies to develop vessels in areas such as security, science and research and engineering,” Hu was reported saying.
The move towards having more Chinese-built icebreaking vessels to boost polar expeditions is part of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). Beijing believes that only through extensive ocean surveys will it be able to enhance its understanding of the oceans, and thus help in environmental protection as well as giving the country a louder voice on the international maritime arena.