Journey to Antarctic

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Xiangyanghong 10, a Chinese expedition vessel, docks at a harbor on King George Island.

On the morning of Nov. 20, 1984, the country's first Antarctic expedition group set off from Shanghai for the South Pole. PLA Navy Commissar Li Yaowen, National Committee of Antarctic Research Director Wu Heng, and Head of the State Oceanography Bureau Luo Yuru were present during the farewell ceremony. The expedition team accepted a brass plaque and national flag from the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, then embarked on the journey to the icy pole aboard two salvage and rescue ships.

During the next month, the team traveled through the tropics, temperate regions of the northern and southern hemispheres, and the frigid southern seas. They passed through 13 time zones, navigating at 18 knots (18 nautical mph), heading across the Pacific in accordance with the plan. The team arrived at Argentina in mid-December at Ushuaia harbor, behind the southern tip of the island Tierra del Fuego. After just a brief stay, the fleet drifted towards the Antarctic Peninsula, eventually landing in the frozen world of King George Island in January 1985.

The expedition's mission was to build a station on the mysterious Antarctic land. On Feb. 14, 1985, the team set a new record by taking only 45 days to build a permanent station in the shortest time recorded.

Another mission for the team was to observe and study the surrounding Antarctic waters. Several hundred nautical, scientific and construction workers were engaged in this huge expedition campaign. The whole expedition consisted of 50 members, drawn from more than 10 departments and 20 units, with the oldest aged 55 and the youngest only 19. The vast majority of the members were scientists and engineering personnel.