Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, returned to its Shanghai base on Thursday after wrapping up the country's fifth Arctic expedition with a landmark trip.
The icebreaker, with a 119-member team aboard, completed an unprecedented round trip between the Pacific and the Atlantic via the Arctic route, making it the first Chinese vessel to have undertaken a high-latitude voyage across the Arctic Ocean, according to a statement from the Polar Research Institute of China.
During the three-month voyage, the icebreaker traveled 18,500 nautical miles, including 5,370 nautical miles in the Arctic ice zone.
The statement said the expedition team has successfully performed various scientific research tasks. The researchers conducted a systematic geophysical survey, installed an automatic meteorological station, as well as launched investigations on oceanic turbulence and methane content in the Arctic area.
They also held academic exchanges with their counterparts in Iceland, and the two groups conducted a joint oceanic survey in the waters around Iceland.
Xuelong, an A-2 class icebreaker capable of breaking ice 1.2 meters thick, kicked off its journey from the eastern Chinese port of Qingdao on July 2. In early April, it completed the country's 28th Antarctic expedition after covering 28,000 nautical miles in 163 days.
(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2012)