A Chinese icebreaker ship crashed into an iceberg at the South Pole

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Xue Long (Snow Dragon)Xue Long (Snow Dragon)AP

  • In a burst of irony, a Chinese icebreaker crashed into an iceberg over the weekend.
  • The Xue Long, which was traveling at relatively low speeds at the time, collided with an iceberg obscured by thick fog in western Antarctica's Amundsen Sea on Saturday.
  • The ship suffered some damage, but the crew was unharmed.

The Chinese icebreaker research ship Xue Long (Snow Dragon) crashed into an iceberg over the weekend, according to Chinese media.

The ship collided with the iceberg on Saturday in western Antarctica's Amundsen Sea, which was apparently shrouded in fog at the time of the crash, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday, citing a report from Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

The crash shattered the ship's mast and left 250 metric tons of snow and ice piled up on the deck; however, the vessel's crew was uninjured. The ship was traveling at 3 knots (roughly 5.5 km/h) at the time of the collision, Chinese state-run media reported.

The Xue Long is a key player in China's Arctic ambitions. The vessel made its first voyage through the Northwest Passage in the fall of 2017. It is the first Chinese polar research ship to have successfully navigated all three of the main Arctic shipping routes.

The ship was on its 35th Antarctic voyage at the time of the recent collision.

While China has three light icebreakers, Xue Long is the country's only icebreaker research ship. A second ship is currently in the works.

China is not the only country to have problems with its icebreakers, though. The Russian icebreaker Viktor Chernomyrdin caught fire last November at a local shipyard, and the US reportedly once passed on sending the Polar Star to participate in an Arctic exercise for fear that it would break down and the Americans would have to request assistance from the Russians.

Read More: A Russian icebreaker caught fire in St. Petersburg - the latest in a series of shipyard accidents

Read More: The Coast Guard turned down a request for an Arctic exercise out of concern the US's only heavy icebreaker would break down and Russia would have to rescue it

The incident with the Chinese ship just happens to be a bit more ironic. The ship is said to be operating normally now.

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