China delivers first domestic polar ice breaker Xuelong 2

China’s first domestically built polar ice breaker, Xuelong 2, or Snow Dragon 2, was delivered on Thursday, according to Beijing.

China’s Xuelong 2, or Snow Dragon, is to be deployed to Antarctica later this year, Beijing said Thursday.

China’s ministry of natural resources said the ship was delivered in Shanghai and is expected to be deployed later this year to Antarctica, Xinhua news agency reported.

The ship’s ceremony took place at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, according to China Daily.

The ship is the first domestically developed polar icebreaker for China. Beijing’s first icebreaker, the Xuelong, is a converted Arctic cargo ship that was built in 1993 at Kherson Shipyard in the Ukraine.

China sought the help of Finnish engineering firm Aker Arctic in ship design. The Finnish company jointly designed the ship with the Marine Design and Research Institute of China in Shanghai, which operates under China’s State Shipbuilding Corp. Construction did not start until December 2016.

The polar icebreaker is equipped to conduct research in the Arctic and Antarctic region and has capabilities for geological and biological experimentation and surveying.

The Xuelong 2 measures 122.5 meters in length and 22.3 meters in width and has a displacement of nearly 14,000 tons.

According to Xinhua, the ship has two-direction icebreaking capabilities and can sail on 60-day expeditions.

“Xuelong 2 will become a major platform for China’s oceanic environmental survey and scientific research in the polar regions,” said Qin Weijia, director of polar research at China’s State Oceanic Administration.

In May, the Pentagon said China is planning to build a new “Polar Silk Road” in the North Atlantic and Arctic Circle.

The world’s second-largest economy is seeking to compete with the United States and Russia for influence, the U.S. Department of Defense said earlier this year.

China has developed icebreakers and built civilian-operated research stations in Norway, Iceland and other areas of the North Atlantic, according to the Pentagon.

ByElizabeth Shim