Chilean-built icebreaker will be ready by December

The first Chilean-built icebreaker is 60 percent complete. The ship will assist exploration further south into the Antarctic and search and rescue missions. It will be seaworthy by the end of the year

The Chilean Navy’s “Antarctica I” project is reported to be 60 percent complete, according to MercoPress. The project centers on the construction of Chile’s first home built ice-breaker vessel, called the Almirante Óscar Viel. The ship will be unveiled at the XII International Naval Exhibition and Congress in Valparaíso in December 2022.

The vessel is being assembled at the Asmar shipyard in Talcahuano and is estimated to cost US$210 million. At 111 meters long with a displacement of 10,500 tons, it will be the largest unit manufactured in Latin America.  

According to a statement by the Chilean Navy, the purpose of thiss project is to have a vessel that enables the country to extend its national presence into the Antarctic. The ship will be breaking ice that is around a meter thick at a minimum speed of two knots. 

The addition of this vessel to the Navy’s fleet of ships will allow for more intensive search and rescue missions, as the ship is equipped with echo sounders, sonars, winches, cranes, and sample collection equipment. It will also be used to give “logistical support to Antarctic bases.” This includes transporting personnel, loading and unloading of containers, delivering oil, and supplying aviation fuel. 

The ship will be able to travel 650 kilometers further south than the Navy’s previous ice breaker, Óscar Viel. The latter was decommissioned in 2019 and sunk in 2021 while being used in a naval air combat exercise with the U.S. Navy.  

Currently the world’s largest icebreaker, the Arktika, owned by Russia, is a nuclear-powered ship over 173 meters long and built to break through nearly three meters of ice. It displaces nearly three times as much water as Chile’s new ship, and was built by Russia to help develop the Northern Sea route. 

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