China’s State Oceanic Administration is planning to complete a new icebreaker vessel by 2014 to be deployed as reasearch vessel in the polar regions.

The new icebreaker is now under design stage will join the existing Xuelong, or ‘Snow Dragon’, China’s only Antarctic research vessel which it bought from Ukraine in 1993.

State Oceanic Administration deputy director Weng Lixin was quoted saying saying that the institute is in the process of conceptual design for the new vessel and it is going smoothly.

"We opened the bidding for the vessel’s design to the world and now it has been settled," Lixin said.

Capable of breaking ice up to 1.5m thick, topped with 0.2m of snow, the new icebreaker will weigh 8,000t.

The new vessel will have a cruising speed of 20,000 nautical miles, and can work in water for up to 60 days with a top speed of 15 knots.

China is planning to partner with other countries to build the vessel and according to the plan the new vessel will be designed by an overseas company and built by a Chinese shipbuilder.

The country has been conducting polar exploration and scientific research since 1984 and has built four polar research stations: Arctic Yellow River Station in Svalbard, Norway; Great Wall Station in the Shetland Islands, west Antarctica and Zhongshan Station in the Larse.