Journey of historic ship ends a day short of goal

A replica 16th-century junk sank off Taiwan on Sunday just one day short of completing a record 14,000-mile passage across the Pacific and back, after a collision involving a Liberian freighter.

The 11 crew ofPrincess TaiPing, who were found drifting on the partially submerged vessel about 30 miles off the island’s northeastern Suao port, were recued by police and coastguards.

ThePrincess TaiPing, a 35-tonne replica of a Ming dynasty warship, was part of an expedition to verify a theory that 600 years ago China’s greatest admiral and explorer, Zheng He, had sailed to North America – before Columbus or Magellan. She set out from Pisha, north Taiwan, in June last year, sailing to Japan and then on to San Francisco which she reached five months later after surviving several storms.

A spokesman for the coastguard said that the junk and a Liberia-registered freighter collided but that no further action would be taken as the incident took place in water where Taiwan has no jurisdiction and the junk is registered in Hong Kong.

Liu’s crew included six Americans, two Japanese, one Taiwanese and one Chinese.