Chinese research vessel completes 8th Arctic expedition
After 83 days voyage in the polar region, China’s research ship Xue Long, also known as “Snow Dragon,” returned to Shanghai on Oct. 9, marking a fruitful ending of the country’s 8th arctic expedition.
The vessel, which carries 96 crew members and scientists, has conducted scientific research, as well as explored new shipping routes opened up by melting Arctic sea ice. As of press time, the vessel has completed its voyages through all three main arctic passages, while its first transit of the Northwest Passage on Sept. 6 has opened up a new sea lane for China.
According to Xinhua News Agency, from Shanghai to New York, the traditional route that passes through the Panama Canal is 10,500 nautical miles, while the route that passes through the Northwest Passage is 8,600 nautical miles, which saves 7 days of time.
Due to global warming, more effective sea routes have opened up as Arctic sea ice melts. Though China’s activities in the region are limited, the country has been focusing on exploring cheaper sea lanes in recent years. In 2013, Cosco Shipping Co., Ltd. completed the first commercial use of the Arctic Northeast Passage by a Chinese company.
Xuelong, which was put into use in 1994, was primarily designed to transport supplies to China’s research stations. It can break ice up to 1.2 meters thick, Xinhua reported.
(Source_title：Chinese research vessel completes 8th Arctic expedition)