A Chinese scientific research ship returned home in east China's Shandong Province Sunday after a 300-day round-the-world voyage.
The ship, the first of its kind in China to circumnavigate the globe, brought back more than 1,000 kilograms of hydrothermal sulfide samples containing copper, zinc and precious metals such as gold and silver, according to Monday's China Daily.
Setting off from Qingdao, the coastal port in Shandong, last April, "Dayang Yihao (Ocean No.1)" travelled 43,230 nautical miles (79,975 kilometers), first visiting the Pacific and then sailing across the Atlantic through the Panama Canal. It then travelled to the Indian Ocean, rounding the Cape of Good Hope before continuing back to the Pacific through the Straits of Malacca.
"The distance is the equivalent to circling the equator twice," said Lu Huisheng, 40, captain of the vessel, according to the Beijing-based newspaper.
The expedition was divided into six working trips with five stopovers, including Micronesia, Mexico, South Africa and Singapore for supplies of fuel, drinking water and fresh food.
Chinese scientists on board have gathered many rock samples, monitored and mapped out the ocean floor for future deep-sea mining operations and also conducted deep-sea biological research such as investigating, collecting and classifying sea life samples.
Han Xizhu, assistant to the chief scientist in the trip, said studies on the distribution of hot liquid sulfides on the sea floor have been undertaken in a bid to accumulate data for further development and exploitation.
First-hand data of life formations near thermal vents are also a focus of the research mission, as biological gene study in this extreme environment may help with the fight against human diseases, said Han.
Marine analysts said the trip marks the first step in the efforts of Chinese scientists to expand their reach to all major oceanic areas and to transform their focus from field research of mineral and biological resources to all-purposes studies, including advanced equipment testing and professional training.
About 120 scientific researchers, including several scientists from the United States and Germany, took part in the mission. Among them there were only two females, Han one of them.