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​Vietnamese ministry proposes spending $2mn on salvaging 16th century shipwreck 

Friday, June 22, 2018, 16:53 GMT+7

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has formally suggested allotting over VND48 billion ($2 million) from the government budget for salvaging a centuries-old shipwreck in central Vietnam.

The ship in question was discovered offshore during a dredging project to construct a port in waters near Quang Ngai Province’s Dung Quoc mixed-use economic zone last July.

The about 30 meters long, ten meters wide vessel contains ceramics traced back to the 16th century, many of which were produced in China.

Experts said the ship must have wrecked while travelling near the province.           

In its salvage proposal, the ministry said VND39 billion ($1.7 million) of the budget would be used to raise the vessel to the surface and perform examinations and a preliminary preservation treatment on the wreck and its artifacts.

Another VND1.3 billion ($57,000) would be allotted to investigate and salvage the ship. 

The remaining VND8 billion ($352,000) would be set aside for cost overruns, according to the ministry.

The proposal also underlined that it does not take into account costs for long-term preservation and reconstruction of the wreck.

The ministry also asked for a separate VND10 billion ($440,000) to be earmarked from Quang Ngai’s budget for ongoing efforts to protect the site, without elaborating why the expenditure is necessary.

The marine salvage operation, expected to take place between July and end-2019, may involve 70 experts from home and abroad.

The vessel and its cargo may testify to an epoch of thriving trade in silk and pottery between Quang Ngai and foreign countries, said Nguyen Dang Vu, director of the local Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Pots from an age-old ship found in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam, July 2017, are put in a box. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Pots from an age-old ship found in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam, July 2017, are put in a box. Photo: Tuoi Tre

In the feudal past, Chinese merchant ships often visited the province to wait out storms, do business, and stock up on food, according to Doan Ngoc Khoi – deputy director of the local general museum.

Quang Ngai’s coastal waters are nicknamed ‘the cemetery of ancient ships’ due to the many shipwrecks discovered there.

Archeologists believe that many of these ships may have been all set on fire either accidentally by sailors or deliberately by pirates.

In January 2013, Quang Ngai authorities approved a salvage program worth over VND40 billion ($1.8 million) to have a company recover a sunken ship at a local beach in Binh Son District.

The vessel supposedly carried around 40,000 artifacts appraised at VND54 billion ($2.4 million).

In the end, only over 5,000 items were collected from the wreck.

A local museum received 33 percent of the salvaged items, while the firm kept the rest, according to an agreement the two sides reached before the project.

The museum also kept 35 gems, scales, and bronze mirrors, for public exhibition.

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Thai Xuan / Tuoi Tre News

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