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Touring Shirase Icebreaker Ship

Two Casa Noda helpers and I went to Nagasaki’s harbour to see Shirase. Shirase is a Japanese icebreaker operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. The ship is being used for Antarctic expeditions, but was in Nagasaki for a couple of days to give people the chance to take a tour and learn about their work. The ship is named after the Shirase Glacier and follows JMSDF’s internal naming rule, that says an icebreaker must take its name from a place. The Shirase Glacier is located in Havsbotn bay, Antarctica, and was named after Lieutenant Nobu Shirase, a Japanese pioneer of Antarctic exploration.

The ship is 138m by 28m, weighs 12,650 ton and can transport up to 80 scientist as well as its own crew to the South Pole. It was very interesting to see the rooms they work at and see the video and photos that showed their work.

We went on a very hot day, but thankfully there were fans all over the ship to help cool the visitors. Whenever we had questions we could ask any crew-member, they really took the time to explain everything in detail. They also had a couple of spots where visitors could take a photo with penguins, research objects and machinery from the ship. They even had blocks of ice from Antarctica which you could touch yourself!

From the ship we had a beautiful view of Nagasaki’s harbour and its ships. The water here is much clearer than the Dutch part of the North-Sea which I am used to. After leaving the ship we could watch many fish and managed to find some great spots for fishing. Outside Shirase were several motorcycles and cars of Japan’s ground forces, which people could enter and take photos of.

We had a great time touring Shirase, you should take a look yourself the next time it visits Nagasaki!