Bidding for construction of China's second polar research ship will start by the end of April, says Hu Keyi, technical director at Jiangnan Shipyard.
The ship's estimated budget will be more than one billion yuan ($154 million) and construction is expected to take about two years.
Xue Long is the only Chinese icebreaking research ship currently in service. Built in Ukraine in 1993, the ship was converted from an Arctic cargo ship to a polar research and re-supply vessel by China in the 1990s.
The ship has undergone four conversions, two undertaken by Jiangnan Shipyard.
The new vessel will feature higher ice capabilities, better research capabilities and be more comfortable and environmentally friendly, said Hu.
Competition is expected to be fierce, as more than 30 major shipyards have gone bankrupt over the past two years in China.
“China has excess capacity in building conventional ships but not in complex and high value-added ships,” Hu said. “Adjusting production structure should be the key. The government should encourage domestic companies to develop vessels in areas such as security, science and research and engineering.”