South Korea to Invest $200M in New Icebreaker

South Korea to Invest $200M in New Icebreaker

South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries reports that the nation’s cabinet approved a $205 million budget for the construction of a 15,000-tonne-class icebreaking research vessel by 2026.

This investment is part of the country’s plan to strengthen high-latitude research. The vessel is expected to help in the establishment of the world’s sixth research station in inland Antarctica by 2030. It will also assist South Korean researchers in leading international programs to explore the North Pole.

The next-generation icebreaker will be able to proceed to the high Arctic Ocean because of its ability to breach 1.5-meter-thick ice at a speed of three knots.

A new icebreaker is being built as part of South Korea’s ambitious plan to expand polar operations. This plan also includes building an Antarctic inland research outpost.

The program will make it possible to conduct high-latitude business, international collaboration, workforce development, and scientific research, including both the South and North Poles.

“We will implement the basic plans to seek a solution to respond to climate changes and to develop new advanced technologies,” said Cho Seung-hwan, Oceans and Fisheries Minister.

Currently, South Korea operates two Antarctic research stations: the King Sejong Station, erected in 1988 on King George Island, and the Jang Bogo Station, built in 2014 in Terra Nova Bay. The country intends to construct the third station commencing with a location selection by 2027.

When finished, the station will be the first of its kind in the nation and the sixth inland station overall. In addition, there are five inland Antarctic research bases operated by the United States, Russia, Japan, and China, as well as one by France and Italy.

The new icebreaker will take the place of the RV Araon, the first icebreaking vessel made in South Korea. The $100 million ship weighs 6,950 tons and was launched in 2009. It was only intended for use in multiple-year ice conditions with a thickness of one meter or greater.

The Araon, whose principal duties have included feeding South Korea’s two Antarctic institutions and conducting polar research, received international fame after successfully completing a rescue mission involving the Russian trawler Sparta, which had been caught in Antarctic sea ice, in December 2011.

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