Chinese Icebreaker Xue Long Berths in Reykjavík Skip to content

Chinese Icebreaker Xue Long Berths in Reykjavík

The Chinese icebreaker, polar research vessel Xue Long, arrived in Iceland on Tuesday and anchored in the harbor of Skarfabakki in Reykjavík yesterday.


The icebreaker, polar research vessel Xue Long, has berthed at Skarfabakki. Photo by NZ.

The icebreaker carries the fifth Chinese National Arctic Expedition (Chinare 5) and took the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic for the first time in Chinese history.

It took about six weeks to cover the distance of approximately 15,000 km from Quingdao in China to Iceland.

The Chinese expedition’s arrival in Iceland marks their first formal visit to an Arctic country and is to help enhance the cooperation of Chinese and Icelandic scientists on polar and marine sciences.

The two countries recently established a Framework Agreement on Arctic Cooperation.

“It is an excellent example for cooperation between an Arctic and a non-Arctic country,” said Huigen Yang, the expedition leader, at a press conference yesterday.

He thanked Iceland for this unique opportunity of cooperation. Not only scientists but also Icelandic officials, including President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, are invited to visit the ship.

Moreover, the ship will be open to the public on Saturday from 11am to 4 pm. After four days in Reykjavík, it will berth in Akureyri, north Iceland, on Monday before leaving Iceland again.

The ship—its name meaning “Snow Dragon”—is the largest non-nuclear powered icebreaker in the world. It is 167 meters long, nearly 23 meters wide and can sail through 1.1 meters of ice with a constant speed of 1.5 knots.

The expedition’s aim was to study marine conditions in the Arctic and to survey the rapid changes in marine environment and its impact on Chinese climate.

Therefore, several stops were made in order to collect and analyze data on meteorological, geological and chemical conditions.

The ship carries not only the crew and a small team of Chinese journalists but also more than 60 scientists of several fields of research, two of them Icelandic.

For their studies, they can use the seven well-equipped laboratories and more than 500 square meters of workspace on board.


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