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China's deep-sea center 'open to the whole world'


09:55, April 13, 2013

Shandong province marine facility expected to start operating next year

The China National Deep Sea Center, expected to start operating next year, will be open to China and the world to explore the ocean depths, according to a senior official.

Liu Feng, director of the center, said that by drawing on ideas from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States, a well-known ocean research, engineering and educational organization, the center will act as a bridge connecting scientists' demands with technical research and development.

With building expected to start in May, the center will cover about 26 hectares of land and 62.7 hectares of sea in Jimo county, off the east coast of Shandong province, serving as a support station for deep-sea facilities, including Jiaolong, China's manned submersible.

The center's design plan includes a construction and maintenance workshop, a scientific research building, a large pool for experimental dives, and training facilities. It will feature five berths to accommodate two vessels weighing 6,000 metric tons and three of 3,000 tons.

Xinhua News Agency reported that the center will cost an estimated 495 million yuan ($78.6 million) for initial construction, but Liu said the cost can only be disclosed after the feasibility report is approved by the National Development and Reform Commission.

Scientists can apply to use the deep-sea equipment managed by the center, Liu said.

Liu also said an expert assessment committee should be set up to assess applications, and arrange them according to urgency and feasibility, as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution does.

But regulations and detailed operating rules, such as how to levy charges, are still being considered. The deep-sea base program is the fifth of its kind in the world, following those in the US, Russia, France and Japan.

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