President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday inaugurated the nation’s newest research vessel at a shipyard in Keelung as she vowed to make Taiwan a prosperous and sustainable maritime country.
The 2,155-tonne R/V New Ocean Researcher 1, one of three ships commissioned by the Ministry of Science and Technology from CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台船), was built at a cost of nearly NT$646 million (US$21.86 million) and is to take over the mission of the R/V Ocean Researcher I, which stopped operations earlier this year.
It is part of the new research fleet, along with the R/V New Ocean Researcher 2 and the R/V New Ocean Researcher 3 — also built by CSBC and inaugurated last year — and the R/V Legend, built by a Singaporean shipbuilder and inaugurated in 2018.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Science and Technology via CNA
Yesterday was a big day for the nation, as the R/V New Ocean Researcher 1, built by a domestic shipbuilder, was finally inaugurated after years of planning, Tsai told a ceremony at CSBC’s Keelung shipyard.
The ship would embark on trips to Guam and Palau to survey typhoon genesis hotspots in the western Pacific, as well as the Mariana Trench and the North Equatorial Current, under the ministry’s “Sailing to the Blue Sea” program, Tsai said.
The surveys would advance people’s understanding of the environment, improve natural disaster response, and allow the nation to contribute to the global community and promote sustainable development in the region, she said.
As a nation surrounded by waters, Taiwan is intimately tied to the ocean in many aspects, but for a long period, Taiwanese lacked oceanic education and turned their backs on the ocean, Tsai said, citing remarks by author Liao Hung-chi (廖鴻基), whose books focus on the ocean.
However, society has renewed its understanding of the ocean, thanks to efforts by the previous research vessels over the past three decades, she said, adding that the new fleet would expand the scope of research on existing foundations.
“Let us build a prosperous and sustainable maritime country,” Tsai said, as she wished the new ship smooth sailing.
The “Sailing to the Blue Sea” program encourages marine research in distant seas, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Lin Minn-tsong (林敏聰) said.
With the ships using state-of-the-art instruments, the ministry aims to establish a “four-dimensional “observation network to deepen the nation’s understanding of the marine environment and weather conditions to promote a sustainable marine environment, he said.
The R/V New Ocean Researcher 1, which is to be transferred from the ministry to National Taiwan University’s Institute of Oceanography for management, is scheduled to visit Guam in December, but the plan is subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, institute director Jan Sen (詹森) said.
The institute plans to install a Doppler radar to collect meteorological data within a 150km radius vertically and horizontally, he said, adding that such radar systems are only found on Australian, Japanese and US research vessels.
The ship’s state-of-the-art instruments include shallow and deep-sea multibeam echosounders that would allow scientists to produce high-resolution 3D maps of sea floors, Jan said.
The institute also displayed several instruments that could be deployed on the vessel, including a data buoy for ocean and weather observations, a Seaglider autonomous underwater vehicle and a remotely operated vehicle.
Building the research ships to complex scientific instrument specifications was a challenge for CSBC, which was used to constructing large commercial ships, chairman Cheng Wen-lon (鄭文隆) said.
After the R/V Ocean Researcher V shipwreck in 2014, CSBC was required to adopt stricter safety standards used for passenger ships when building the research ships, he added.
Another CSBC member said the company might face fines for its delay in transferring the ship and that it is negotiating about related matters with the ministry.
Lin said the ministry would handle the matter according to its contract with the firm.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South