Chinese archaeologists on Wednesday set sail from Sanya in south China's Hainan Province aboard the oceanic research vessel Tansuo-1 to carry out the country's first deep sea archaeological mission.
Six archaeologists will board the submersible Shenhai Yongshi (Deep Sea Warrior) and complete six dives in waters off Beijiao of the Xisha Islands as part of an archaelogical survey, according to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH).
The dives, ranging from six to eight hours each, will vary in depth from 50 to 200 meters, although they may dive as deep as 1,000 meters if necessary. The manned submersible is designed to reach a maximum depth of 4,500 meters.
The mission will promote the establishment of an interdisciplinary mechanism for archaeology and lay a solid foundation for better protecting underwater cultural relics, said Song Xinchao, deputy head of SACH.
Vital to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the sea surrounding the Xisha Islands is a hub for cultural exchange for several countries. It is also important for research and protecting underwater relics left by ancient ships.
Tansuo-1 is owned by the Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering (IDSSE) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In September 2017, the IDSSE and the National Center of Underwater Cultural Heritage signed a cooperation framework agreement for promoting the country's deep-sea archaeological work. A deep-sea archaeological laboratory was jointly established by the two sides in January.
In October 2017, the manned submersible completed its first deep sea testing mission off the shores of Sanya.