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YOKOSUKA, Kanagawa Pref. (Kyodo) The new icebreaker Shirase, which will make its planned debut in an Antarctic mission in the fall, docked Monday at its home port in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in preparation for a public appearance over the weekend.

Its predecessor, also named the Shirase, likewise docked at the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Yokosuka base. The new 12,650-ton Shirase is 138 meters long, 28 meters wide and has state-of-the-art ice-breaking capabilities. It is Japan’s fourth icebreaker for Antarctic expeditions.

“I’m extremely proud to be able to work on a great vessel,” the Shirase’s captain, Mitsuo Koume, said in an address to a crowd of some 300 people at a welcoming ceremony for the ship.

The Shirase is scheduled to go on its first voyage in November, carrying Japan’s 51st expedition team to Antarctica.

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