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Montevideo, May 24th 2024 - 17:37 UTC



Chile's new icebreaker completes first week at sea

Saturday, April 20th 2024 - 10:39 UTC
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The new Almirante Viel is to be launched on Dec. 22 The new Almirante Viel is to be launched on Dec. 22

The new Chilean-built “Almirante Viel” icebreaker completed her first week of sea testing on Friday, it was reported in Santiago.

The new unit, built at the Astilleros y Maestranzas de la Armada (Asmar) shipyard in Talcahuano is scheduled to be launched on Dec. 22 to replace the old vessel of the same name (AP-46) that operated between Jan. 14, 1995, and Feb. 11, 2019. Built at the Vickers-Armstrong shipyard in Montreal, Canada, in 1969, the old icebreaker had served the Canadian Coast Guard under the name Norman McLeod Rogers before joining the Chilean Navy.

The new Viel ship will arguably be the largest icebreaker operating in South America. The structure was tested for performance, maneuverability, structural resistance, and energy efficiency to “ensure that it meets the highest safety and performance standards before its official delivery to service,” the Chilean Navy explained.

“We began the sea trials process of our icebreaker 'Almirante Viel,' framed in the Antarctica I project, so we are very pleased with this stage after a long journey of construction and design,” Navy Development Director Rear Admiral Rodrigo Peñaranda said.

“We are on the way for this ship to reach the cold waters of the white continent and contribute to national development, science, and care of the aquatic environment,” he added.

The icebreaker is making history for Chile's Continuous National Shipbuilding Plan, being the largest and most complex ship ever built in the South American country.

“A great achievement for Chile. Our Icebreaker Viel, built entirely by ASMAR, will be key in our vocation as an Antarctic country. Congratulations @Armada_Chile!,” President Gabriel Boric Font wrote on X.

The new Viel is also the first icebreaker built in the South Pacific and will perform search and rescue (SAR) operations and scientific research, in addition to logistics tasks supplying Chile's bases and scientific stations in Antarctica. Her construction had been devised since the old Viel was approaching her decommissioning day in the mid-2010s.

The project entailed an investment of US$ 210 million, it was also explained in Santiago. The ship was seaworthy after five years of work involving some 800 people at the Talcahuano Naval Base. She weighs 10,500 tons and is capable of breaking one meter of ice at a speed of 3 knots. The “Almirante Viel” has space for 34 scientists in addition to her crew. She has also been fitted with oceanography, hydrography, microbiology, and chemistry laboratories as well as with a multibeam echo sounder to explore the seabed at high and medium depths.

Categories: Investments, Antarctica, Chile.

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