Chinese scientists aboard the research vessel "Dayang No.1" have been conducting the exploration of pollymetallic nodules in the west Pacific waters since leaving Qingdao port, in north China's Shandong Province, 19 days ago for the country's first round-the-world scientific research cruise.
According to sources with the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) organizer of the global cruise, the ship crew also threw four drift bottles carrying good wishes from the Chinese people into the vast oceans.
COMRA Secretary-General Mao Bin told Xinhua that the 300-day oceanic voyage would also cover the Atlantic and Indian oceans and feature a series of scientific activities. The research vessel is expected to return to the port city of Qingdao in January 2006.
There are 31 crew members and 41 researchers currently aboard the ship.
The cruise was launched as part of a grand nationwide celebration of the 600th anniversary of prestigious ancient Chinese navigator Zheng He's seven great naval voyages undertaken between 1405 and 1433 into southeast Asia and westward to India, Persia, Arabia and Africa.
(Xinhua News Agency April 22, 2005)