China recently launched its first domestically built polar icebreaker, Xue Long 2, and to help protect it from harsh Arctic and Antarctic conditions, they turned to an industry-leading coatings solution supplied by AkzoNobel.

Purpose-built to cope with thick ice sheets and the extreme challenges of polar exploration, the 12,366 ton research vessel is coated with Intershield 163 Inerta 160 from the International® product range. The tried and tested abrasion resistant system has a proven 47-year track record of performing in temperatures as low as -50°C and has already been used on more than 1,600 ships and icebreakers around the world.

“As a pioneer in providing best-in-class marine coatings and solutions globally we’re thrilled to have worked with the Polar Research Institute of China to provide coatings for the Xue Long 2,” says Jean-Michel Gauthier, Managing Director of AkzoNobel’s Marine and Protective Coatings business. “We’re delighted that the proven performance of our International brand has been recognized, along with our long track record and extensive experience.”

The company’s products have been used throughout the exterior and interior of the new icebreaker. The Intershield 163 Inerta 160 system – which was specially developed for ice-going vessels – has been applied to the bottom and sides of the hull. It offers outstanding surface smoothness to maximize agility and icebreaking efficiency, as well as excellent anti-corrosion properties, high durability and strong resistance to shocks and cracking.

“We’re proud to be involved in such an important project,” adds Gauthier. “It highlights how we’re strengthening our customer focus and taking further strides to becoming recognized as the reference in the industry.”

The Xue Long 2 is expected to improve China’s ability to conduct inspections in polar areas. It has greater structural strength than what was previously the country’s sole icebreaker Xue Long (which translates as Snow Dragon), and is also equipped with two-way icebreaking ability. In addition, it has been fitted out with more than 7,000 “intelligent” sensory points, which can collect friction data and other information to provide a reference for designs and the manufacture of new ships in the future.

Its first mission – which will be China’s 36th Antarctic expedition – is expected to take place later this year.