ON BOARD KEXUE — China’s most sophisticated research vessel — named Kexue, or Science — left from the eastern city of Xiamen on Jan 10 on a new expedition to a west Pacific seamount.
The second expedition to the Yap Seamount sea area will focus on deep-sea environment and ecology, said Dong Dongdong, chief scientist of the expedition.
With 74 people on board, the vessel is expected to travel 6,000 nautical miles and return in mid-February.
Sun Song, head of the Institute of Oceanology, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said the expedition will improve understanding on the little-known seamounts, which are mountains rising from the bottom of the ocean without reaching the water surface.
It will also improve knowledge on China’s climate and natural disasters by shedding light on the interaction between the ocean and China’s offshore waters, Sun said.
Kexue earlier this month wrapped up its first Yap Seamount expedition, also China’s first on such landscape, having conducted missions such as deep-sea photographing and biological sampling. The Yap Seamount is rich in mineral resources and ecological diversity.
With a gross tonnage of 4,711, Kexue is 99.8 meters long and 17.8 meters wide. With a cruising capacity of 15,000 nautical miles and a top speed of 15 knots, it can travel with a crew of 80 for 60 days.