Visiting the XueLong
For the second time this season we’ve been lucky enough to have a visit from the CHINARE (Chinese Antarctic Research Expedition) icebreaker, the MV XueLong (which, by the way, means ‘Snow Dragon’). The occasion for this visit is the collection of geological samples, which were taken by Chinese geologists a couple of months ago.
The team of geologists spent most of their time out in remote Antarctic places, so we didn’t see much of them. Still, they were an interesting group when they were here, and even pitched in around station without being asked (like helping with sorting good potatoes from bad in the cold room).
Here you can see the XueLong. She’s a mighty vessel, and for both visits has anchored in roughly the same place as the Aurora Australis. The arrangement this time was that they would send a few boatloads of people ashore, and in return they would accept a few boatloads aboard to look around the ship. A formal dinner was also had aboard the ship by a few of our senior station management team (which was quite a banquet, I’m told).
Here we are in the process of boarding the small transport boat. Firstly we were given a quick brief on safety requirements, along with donning our Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). After the boat came alongside and the occupants disembarked, we clamboured aboard for our trip out.
Here she is up closer. Not too much to say here; I’m impressed by icebreakers in general.
Our climb aboard the ship was quick, easy and scenic. As precarious as some of you might think this looks, it’s a very sturdy cage and a very smooth lift by the crane. In moments we were on the deck without climbing a single rung.
Here we are on the bridge, with the Captain to the far right of frame. The bridge was very large and very comfortable, and it’d be very interesting to be aboard for a voyage some time.
I must confess to taking very few photos of the ship itself. I was too busy sticky-beaking or wagging my chin with the scientists and crew. It should suffice to say that there is a lot of room in the research labs compare to our icebreaker, and that everyone was friendly and accommodating of our relentless curiosity.
Here you can see the boat about to be divested of its last cargo; a gift of some Chinese beer. Which reminds me, we had dinner aboard the ship too. Aside from being delicious, one of the dishes was bok choi; the only fresh, green leafy anything I’ve eaten in quite some time!
To finish, as is often the case, I’ve thrown in a couple of non-ship-related photos that I happened to take. Thanks for reading.