Vietnam plans to build the country's first Centre for Underwater Archaeological Research in Hoi An this year, Nguyen Giang Hai, the head of Vietnam's Archaeology Institute, told Vietnam News on July 5.

Hai said the centre, which has initial investment of 200 billion VND (9.5 million USD), would boost research in underwater archaeology.

"It's a very new science, but Vietnam has a 3,200km coastline. Many shipwrecks are yet to be discovered. The centre will help the country explore the precious value of underwater heritage and the history of our sea and islands," Hai said.

"The institute has asked for advice from international archaeologists and scientists to build the centre," he said.

The institute will submit a proposal for the centre to the Prime Minister for approval and funding later this year.

Seafaring has been a way of life in Vietnam for more than 2,000 years.

According to some historians, central Vietnamese ports were among the busiest in Asia in the 13th century and one or two thousand years BC, as artwork on the ancient bronze drums shows.-VNA