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On the 10th of December at 5 am the research vessel Shen Kuo, which innovative Diesel-electric power supply and propulsion system carried out by E-MS, reached the deepest known point in the world: the Mariana Trench with a water depth of more than 10.000 meters.

The twin-hulled vessel named after scientist Shen Kuo began a 45-day voyage on the 25th of November 2018 with a crew of 60 persons to test equipment and conduct research in the Mariana Trench. A research team from Shanghai Ocean University and Westlake University is led by Cui Weicheng, director of Shanghai Ocean University`s Hadal Science and Technology Research Center. The ship left Luchao Port in Shanghai for Challenger Deep, the deppest known point on the seabed, at the southern end of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

“It`s the maiden voyage of Shen Kuo and we plan to spend about 20 days cruising and 25 days on tests and research,” said Cui. The equipment to be tested includes a manned submersible and two deep-sea landing devices, all capale of diving to depths of 10,000 meters, as well as a deep-sea buoy that can go to 4,500 meters under the water. They will take photographs and bring back samples from the trench, including water, sediment, macro- and microorganisms.

“If we can take photos of fish more than 8,145 meters under water,” said Cui, “we will break the current world record. If we can take photos of fish and catch some more than 8,500 meters, we may be able to overthrow the current theory of the survival limits of fish. We will test our new equipment including the landing devices. They are the second generation. The first generation could only take samples in one spot per dive, but this new second generation can take samples at different depths in one dive. We will also test the ultra short baseline acoustic positioning system on the manned submersible, the future of underwater navigation.”

Shen Kuo, which was launched in April, is the first twin-hull scientific research vessel built with private funds. It is 63 meters long, 23 meters wide with a full load displacement of 2,180 tons. With its fast speed, low energy consumption and long range, it is expected to be extremley suitable for underwater surveys and research and tests for marine acoustic equipment. It can sail in a force-10 gale. 

It is the second ocean-going research vessel developed by the Hadal Science and Technology Research Center and Rainbow Fish Ocean Technology Co. The two parties launched the “Rainbow Fish” program in 2013 to establish a mobile lab for ocean research and technology development.

Source: Shine, Shen Ke © Xinhua, www.news.cn