Polar Silk Road (icebreaker)

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In 2018 China announced plans to build a nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Polar Silk Road.[1][2] The vessel is said to be similar to Russia's Arktika class of nuclear-powered icebreakers.[3]

Only Russia and the former Soviet Union had built nuclear-powered icebreakers. China's previous two ice-breakers, both named Xue Long, are conventionally powered.[2]

The vessel will be powered by two 25 Megawatt nuclear reactors, and is projected to cost approximately 1 billion yuan.[3]

Some sources assert that China's Polar Silk Road plan call for China to build a new conventionally powered Polar Class icebreaker in addition to a nuclear powered icebreaker.[4] China is also planning to build an ice-protected heavy-lift semi-submersible vessel. It would be used to carry and install drilling platforms for petroleum extraction.


  1. Trym Aleksander Eiterjord (2018-07-17). "China’s Planned Nuclear Icebreaker". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 2021-07-29. https://web.archive.org/web/20210729153711/https://thediplomat.com/2018/07/chinas-planned-nuclear-icebreaker/. Retrieved 2021-11-13. "Arrangements for the construction of a nuclear icebreaker seem to have started in 2016 when CNNC and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) signed a cooperation agreement on advancing the country’s civilian application of maritime nuclear power." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lyle J. Goldstein (2020-03-16). "China Is Building Nuclear Icebreakers To Seek Out A "Polar Silk Road"". National Interest. Archived from the original on 2021-09-21. https://web.archive.org/web/20210921040256/https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/china-building-nuclear-icebreakers-seek-out-polar-silk-road-132417. Retrieved 2021-11-13. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Thomas Nilsen (2019-03-21). "Details of China’s nuclear-powered icebreaker revealed". Barent's Observer. Archived from the original on 2021-09-09. https://web.archive.org/web/20210909063043/https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2019/03/details-chinas-nuclear-powered-icebreaker-revealed. Retrieved 2021-11-13. "With those specifications, China’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker will be 2 meters longer and a few thousand tons heavier than Russia’s current Arktika-class icebreakers, but somewhat smaller than Russia’s new fleet of icebreakers of the Project 22220 of which there are currently three under construction at the Baltiskiy Shipyard in St. Petersburg." 
  4. Jeremy Greenwood (2021-11-22). "Opinion: The Polar Silk Road Will be Cleared With Chinese Icebreakers". Maritime Executive. Archived from the original on 2021-11-23. https://web.archive.org/web/20211123030837/https://www.maritime-executive.com/editorials/opinion-the-polar-silk-road-will-be-cleared-with-chinese-icebreakers. Retrieved 2021-11-23. "Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Transport has announced that they will develop a new heavy icebreaker and a new heavy-lift semi-submersible vessel capable of salvaging and rescuing vessels in the Arctic. This would supplement their two existing icebreakers and be in addition to reports of their development of a nuclear-powered icebreaker."