China to build 'experimental ship' that could be nuclear icebreaker
China is building a nuclear-powered vessel which might just be an icebreaker.
BEIJING — China is looking to build a massive nuclear-powered vessel described as an 'experimental platform', which some speculate could be a nuclear icebreaker.
According to the South China Morning Post, the China General Nuclear Power Group is looking to build a nuclear powered ship measuring 498 feet long and 98 feet wide, with a displacement of 33,069 tons.
The vessel could be fitted with two 25 megawatt compact pressurized water reactors to propel it to a maximum speed of 11.5 knots.
China has not specified what the ship will be used for, referring to it only as an 'experimental ship platform.'
The vessel's size has been described by Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping as similar to that of Russian nuclear icebreakers.
Russia is the only country that operates nuclear-powered icebreakers, which is used to plow through thick ice-covered waters to maintain and develop the Northern Sea route.
China already has a conventionally powered polar icebreaker, which was launched last year to boost its polar research and expedition capacity.
But having a nuclear icebreaker is important for expanding its presence in the Arctic Ocean.
Song told the South China Morning Post that if experiments using icebreakers go well, the technology could be used to develop next-generation aircraft carriers.
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