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Underwater archeology ship to be completed by 2013

By LIU XIANGRUI (China Daily)

09:59, October 25, 2012

Chinese underwater archaeologists will have an 860-ton ship to help them carry out their work by the end of 2013.

It will be the first ship designed for underwater archaeology owned by China’s cultural heritage team.

Designed by the 701 Research Institute of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, the ship is being built by the 80-year-old Dongfeng Shipbuilding Corporation based in Chongqing.

The project will cost 80 million yuan ($12.8 million). The ship, 56 meters long, 10.8 meters wide and 4.8 meters deep, will use electric propulsion.

It is a critical step for implementing the nation’s marine strategy and protection of its underwater cultural heritage, officials with the heritage administration said.

There are a number of high-value cultural relics buried in China’s vast marine territory, and they face threats including illegal salvage, destruction and smuggling.

China’s underwater archaeology has made significant achievements since the 1980s and has established a number of professional institutions and teams. But without professional ships, the archaeologists had to rent fishing boats to carry out their work. This was caused problems such as high costs, safety concerns and low efficiency.

Building an archaeological ship is an important step for the development of China’s underwater archaeology, the officials said.

The stability and navigation equipment in the ship is designed to suit the needs of underwater archaeology work.

The ship will mainly be used in China’s coastal areas. With the professional devices, it can help detect, confirm and locate underwater relics, and collect accurate information for further excavation and protection.
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