Wed, Aug 03, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Replica merchant ship launch postponed

Staff Writer, with CNA

The maiden voyage of a full-sized replica of a 17th-century merchant ship has been postponed after its crew proved incapable of sailing the boat, Greater Tainan officials said on Monday.

The replica of a Ming Dynasty armed merchant vessel was unveiled on Dec. 4 last year by then-Tainan mayor Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (李安).

It was scheduled to be included in an exhibition at Kaohsiung Harbor before sailing to Penghu and Kinmen this month, the Greater Tainan Cultural Affairs Bureau said.

The bureau had even arranged a round-the-nation tour to show off the vessel.

However, these plans have been put on hold because the crew failed to demonstrate that they could complete the journey. They have not been able to sail the vessel out of its home base, Greater Tainan’s Anping Harbor, since they were hired in May, bureau official Sophie Lee said.

The city has also been unable to recruit enough sailors, she said and so after several inspections, the city had terminated the crew contract for safety reasons.

The bureau is now trying to recruit a new crew to sail the vessel and has postponed the launch until probably next year, Lee said.

The replica was built according a painting of the vessel in the Matsura History Museum in Hirado, Japan.

The replica is named Taiwan Cheng Kung to commemorate Cheng Cheng-kung (鄭成功) — also known as Koxinga — a military leader who landed in Taiwan in 1661 and forced the Dutch off the island, making Taiwan his base for a campaign against the Qing Dynasty.

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