Chile orders new icebreaker | Polarjournal
The icebreaker project “Antarctic-1” will replace the current icebreaker of the Chilean navy “Óscar Viel”. (Photo: ASMAR)

The icebreaker “Óscar Viel” has been in service with the Chilean Navy since 1995. The ship was originally commissioned by the Canadian Coast Guard as CCGS “Norman McLeod Rogers”. The ageing icebreaker is now being replaced. The new ship, which will be built under the name “Antarctica-1”, will replace the navy’s current icebreaker.

After 50 years of use in polar waters, the end of the “Óscar Viel” is only a matter of time. (Photo: Chilean Navy)

The current Chilean icebreaker “Óscar Viel” was in service with the Canadian Coast Guard from October 1969 to 1993. The ship was built by the Canadian Vickers shipyard in Montreal. The ship entered service with the Chilean Navy on January 14, 1995. The icebreaker was renamed “Almirante Óscar Viel” and commissioned as a replacement for the “Piloto Pardo”. In the meantime, already in its 50s, the “Óscar Viel” has reached the end of its life cycle and needs to be replaced.

The 111-meter vessel can reach speeds of up to 15 knots. It is registered with the polar class Lloyd’s Register PC-5 and receive a motor power of 14.5 megawatts. (ASMAR)

New icebreaker from 2023

The ship, which will be built under the name “Antarctica-1”, is intended to replace the current icebreaker of the Navy, “Óscar Viel”. The ship is built by the Chilean shipyard Astilleros y Maestranzas de la Armada (ASMAR).

The “Antarctica-1” project has a long history. The first plans for the new building already existed in 2011. The new ship will provide logistical support for various Antarctic stations. The “Antarctica-1” will be registered with ice class PC-5. The icebreaker should be able to break up one meter of ice at a constant speed of two knots. The power of the engine is 20,000 hp. The 111-metre-long vessel will be able to reach a top speed of 15 knots (27.8 km/h). The total investment of the new icebreaker amounts to 216 million US dollars (180 million euros).

The “Antarctica-1” also has a helicopter hangar in which two helicopters can be stored. The equipment also includes two cranes, which can deposit goods weighing up to 20 tonnes at a distance of 20 metres.

The ship will also be able to carry out search and rescue operations. It has room for transporting 18 people rescued from wreckage or accidents. For medical care, a ship hospital is available for medical consultations.

If all goes according to plans, the ship will leave in 2023 for its maiden voyage towards the Antarctic Circle.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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