• Workers install Jiaolong, China's manned deep-sea research submersible, onto its carrier.

Workers install Jiaolong, China's manned deep-sea research submersible, onto its carrier. (Photo : Getty Images)

In a bid to improve the country’s capabilities in deep-sea research, China will soon start the construction of two deep-sea research vessels, the State Oceanic Administration announced at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday, May 3, China Daily reported.

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One of the vessels is a marine resources survey ship and the other a mothership for manned submersibles. Both vessels will be the first for China. 

As of date, there are 17 long-range oceanographic research ships and 15 coastal water survey ships being operated by China Marine Research Vessels.

According to Hu Xuedong, deputy director of the State Oceanic Administration’s Deep Sea Department, the construction of the ships will commence before July.

China State Shipbuilding Corp.’s Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding Co. in Guangzhou will be in charge of the construction of the survey ship. It will measure 98 meters long and 17 meters wide, powered by an advanced electric propulsion.

In addition, the survey ship will be able to carry over 70 kinds of research equipment. It can also perform accurate long-term surveys in various studies, including ocean-atmosphere systems and marine geology.

Meanwhile, the mothership for manned submersibles will be built at Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group in Wuhan. It will support the submersible called Jiaolong, named after a dragon from Chinese mythology, as well as the construction of China’s  first manned deep-sea station.

Jiaolong is China’s first manned submersible. In June 2012, it successfully reached a depth of 7,062 meters in the Mariana Trench.

“The two ships will have world-class technological and operational capacity. They will be able to travel at least 6,000 nautical miles on each journey,” said Hu at the news conference.

“Their service will extensively improve our capabilities in ocean surveying, deep-sea science and marine environmental protection.”

Due to their advanced nature, the vessels will give builders a lot of challenge in terms of construction, according to experts.