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Araon - Korea Icebreaker

Korea has a particular interest in understanding the Arctic environment with its potential for change because highly industrialized countries reach into high northern latitudes and Asia is under the steady influence of and in exchange with the Arctic environment. Korea would like to be involved in the big pictures and to contribute during post-IPY period.

The name of the icebreaker ARAON is derived from Korean words 'Ara' for Sea and 'On' for All and represents a project to cruise around the world. The Korea's icebreaker (Araon), which was completed by the end of 2009, is 6,950-ton icebreaker and designed for operation in one-meter-thick-multiple-year ice condition (KR PL-10) with 3 knot speed per hour equipped with twin Azimuth propulsion units driven by diesel-electric propulsion plant. She can accommodate up to 85 persons, including 25 crew members.

The facilities of the Araon are as high-tech as those icebreaking vessels of other countries. Since the Araon was recently built, it contains advanced features such as cutting-edge research equipment which differentiates itself from other icebreaking vessels whose main task is freight transportation.

The decision to construct a Korean ice breaker for Antarctic research was not easily concede due to the tremendous amount of time and capital required. A number of challenges ensued during independent Antarctic exploration because of the excessive amount of ice that made access very difficult. And during the construction of the King Sejong Research Station, borrowing Russian or Chinese vessels for freight transportation cost more than USD 70,000 per use. As the importance of Antarctica increased, the government decided to make an ice-breaking vessel in 2005 and had invested KRW 170 billion (USD 93 million) over four years in shipbuilding. Now the construction of Korea’s second Antarctic research base, the Jangbogo Research Station, with the help of the Araon it can be finished without a hitch. Korea's research on the Antarctic began with the King Sejong Station, and studies of the Antarctic Ocean; especially on its submarine geology and marine organisms, will become more active once Jangbogo Station is established.

Korea is not the only country that recognizes the significance of Antarctic exploration. However, very few countries have an icebreaking vessel. The biggest benefit of having an ice breaker is being able to travel to necessary places without any hindrance. According to the PR team leader of KOPRI, Chun Seungryul, Korea’s international status in Antarctic research has gained prestige as more and more countries are asking for help.

Following a circumspective feasibility test in 2003, the basic design and general arrangement of a vessel had been produced in 2004 and 2005, respectively. At the beginning 2007, Hanjin Heavy Industry, Inc. won the contract for constructing an icebreaker ship and a steel-cutting ceremony was held in Jan. 2008.

After keel-laying in May of 2008 and launching and delivery in 2009, she was commissioned for scientific research and logistic purposes in both Antarctic and Arctic regions. Korea expects that the icebreaker ship would enhance the capability of conducting scientific research in polar regions with upgraded efficiency and quality. Korea is operating one "over-wintering" station, the King Sejong on King George Island in the Antarctic, and also has research facilities, the Dasan, in NyAlesund, Svalbard Islands in the Arctic. In November 2008 the Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) release its plan for its new ice breaker the Araon.

After the delivery of the IBRV ARAON to her operator KOPRI (Korea Polar Research Institute) in late 2009, ARAON made sea ice trials twice in the Antarctic Sea (Jan-Feb 2010) and in the Arctic Sea (July-Aug 2010). Unfortunately the Arctic sea trial from July to August on 2010 was performed during time of melting ice in Arctic regions. It was carried out in the medium size ice floes rather than uniform level ice.

The speed performances in the Antarctic were inferior to those of the results in the Arctic region. There are several reasons for this. The tried medium ice floe in the Arctic is not level ice so the ice strength is less than the design target and also the condition around the medium ice floe is not constrained as it is for level ice. The accuracy of the sea trial measurement in the Arctic is not systematic. The most important difference is the phenomena of ice breakings. The breaking shape near the bow differed compared to the shape of the model test in level ice. The breaking ice piece in the Arctic trial did not follow the bow shape and the bow made a crack in the ice floe in front of the ship. This caused ice breaking by crushing. Even considering this inaccuracy, the procedure of the sea trial is proven and the results are reliable in the relation between the ice thickness, strength, speed and power.

ARAON was able to operate at 1.5knots in a 2.5m thick medium ice floe condition with the engine power of 5MW and the speed reached 3.1knots at the same ice floe condition when the power increased to 6.6MW. She showed a good performance of speed in medium ice floe compared to the speed performance in level ice.

The Araon has been researching the Arctic and the Antarctic since it was commissioned in 2009. The vessel gained worldwide fame from the four times it's successfully rescued people operations, the first time being the crew of an ice-stricken Russian fishing boat, the Sparta, in 2011.

On 11 January 2012, around 11:15 am, the RV Araon received an emergency call while at berth. It was from a South Korean fishing boat, the Jungwoo 2, which had caught on fire on the Ross Sea off Antarctica. The ice breaker rushed to the scene to clear the accident and transport injured crew members to McMurdo Station in Antarctica for medical treatment. This was not her first time she made a brilliant performance. Last year, on Dec. 15, the vessel saved an ice-stricken Russian fishing boat, the Sparta, gaining worldwide fame. Andrei Polomar, general director of the Vladivostok ship s company Antei, expressed his gratitude to the Araon , stating the crew of the Korean ice breaker successfully repaired the Sparta by welding a hole resulting from a collision with floating ice, which allowed the fishing boat to get through 100-nautical miles.

The South Korean government sent the Araon on Monday to save 24 Chinese researchers stranded near South Korea's Antarctic Research Station Jang Bogo after their own icebreaker crashed into an iceberg and couldn't pull through. China's maritime ministry said it seemed like there was no way to evacuate the 24 Chinese researchers working on Inexpressible Island near the Jang Bogo Research Station. They asked for South Korea's Araon to help in their rescue. After a voyage of three days, the Araon arrived at the site but could not dock since there were no facilities. Each of the researchers had to be lifted onto the ship by a South Korean helicopter. The Araon took the Chinese delegation to New Zealand's Lyttelton Harbor.

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Page last modified: 25-01-2019 18:47:59 ZULU