Beijing: The construction of China's first domestically manufactured research vessel and icebreaker will be completed by the end of 2013, an official said.

Built with an investment of 1.25 billion yuan (about USD 196.5 million), the construction of the icebreaker was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission in July and has already begun, said Qu Tanzhou, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA).

The icebreaker will improve China's ability to conduct polar research expeditions, joining another research vessel named Xuelong or 'Snow Dragon', Chinese media reported.

The Xuelong is scheduled to leave on Nov 3 for a six-month Antarctic expedition, the vessel's 28th voyage since 1984. The vessel will travel with a crew of 172.

China plans to launch five Antarctic and three Arctic expeditions between 2011 and 2015, with researchers focusing on monitoring weather and environmental changes in the polar regions.

(Agencies)