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Princess Taiping rammed by unknown vessel

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- “We all but made it,” Nelson Liu bemoaned yesterday.

He skippered his Ming war junk Princess Taiping through an unprecedented trans-Pacific voyage, which came to an abrupt end only a stone's throw away from its destination at 2:40 a.m.

An unidentified freighter rammed the replica of a three-masted Chinese war junk, cutting it into two halves off Suao, a fishing port on northeastern Taiwan.

The Princess Taiping was expected to berth at Keelung this morning after a 14,000-mile voyage across the Pacific in ten months.

Liu and his 10-member crew, thrown into the seas in the hit-and-run accident at the 11th hour of their ambitious record-making voyage, were saved by Taiwan's air force and coast guard rescue team.

With head and leg injuries, Liu was helped aboard a National Coast Guard Administration cutter three hours after the Hong Kong-registered Princess Taiping was hit in the middle of night.

“We had earned 99 marks (out of 100),” said 62-year-old Liu, resting at the Veterans General Hospital at Suao where he was taken after the cutter docked at 10:00 a.m where he was later released.

“It's a pity that we couldn't earn the last one mark,” Liu lamented. “No word can describe how sorry I am.”

The skipper was asleep when a crew member woke him up and warned of an unknown freighter coming too close to the Princess Taiping.

“I contacted the freighter by radio,” Liu went on. “We talked in English and I was told to keep my ship to the starboard side of the freighter,” he added.

Liu obeyed. Two minutes later, however, the freighter split his vessel.

“The only identification I have of the freighter is its christened name, Champion Express,” Liu recalled.

The Coast Gguard confirmed the Champion Express was off Suao. But it did not stop to look for those thrown overboard, they said.

“As a matter of fact,” a coast guard lieutenant said, “the Champion Express, which was heading north, stopped only a few minutes, and then continued to sail northwards.”

Alerted by the call for help from the Princess Taiping, the air force search and rescue center dispatched helicopters, which located the shipwreck at 5:16 a.m.

Masao Kinjo, a Japanese crew member, was rescued first. The other nine — including Elizabeth Zeiger, John Hunter and Hugh Morrow of the United States — were lifted off the seas less than half an hour later.

Jason Arnold, Larz Stwewart, William Cook Thomas, Jack L. Durham and Yoji Mori formed the rest of the crew.

April 27, 2009    a8upylixo8y9qpre@
Now we have witnessed the best and worst behavior of sea captains. The best was displayed by Capt. Phillips of the MAERSK ALABAMA and the worst by the incompetent fool in command of the CHAMPION EXPRESS. It is a time honored tradition of the sea that you stand by to rescue survivors in the event of collision. This coward fled the scene like a hit and run driver. He should be stripped of his masters license, keelhauled and jailed.
April 27, 2009    tublairy@
I certainly hope they catch the culprits!
April 27, 2009    taiwanoca@
What a pity for the brave sailormen and women! But why does the headline state "rammed by an unknown vessel" when its name "Champion Express" is clearly mentioned in the article?
April 27, 2009    sarfnic@
Champion Express details

http://www.championtankers.no/eng/Fleet/M-T-CHAMPION-EXPRESS
April 28, 2009    holly@
We're residents of Eureka, California, and met the captain and crew of the Princess Taiping last fall. We're very sorry for their loss but are glad that everyone was safely rescued. We're proud of the Coast Guard and crew for their bravery.
April 28, 2009    wmontalv@
Those bastards on the Champion Express could have killed all of them they should all go to jail for attempted murder.
April 30, 2009    robengelhart@
My wife and I visited the crew in Saipan. I’m a merchant seaman and my wife is Chinese. We are truly sorry for this upbeat crew who were so kind. Wanting to and did make history on the ship. I am sickened by the fact another ship would hit and run like that. It goes against a 500-year tradition and common sense. We will always remember the Princess Taiping and her brave crew. Thank you for coming to Saipan.

-- Rob and Qinghui
May 1, 2009    tgful39@
The shameless acts and dishonesty of the crew in charge of Champion Express is amazing...

http://yachtpals.com/princess-taiping-4150
September 15, 2009    chaoangela@
robengelhart@ wrote:
My wife and I visited the crew in Saipan. I’m a merchant seaman and my wife is Chinese. We are truly sorry for this upbeat crew who were so kind. Wanting to and did make history on the ship. I am sickened by the fact another ship would hit and run like that. It goes against a 500-year tradition and common sense. We will always remember the Princess Taiping and her brave crew. Thank you for coming to Saipan.

-- Rob and Qinghui
Dear Rob and Qinghui,

It's so nice to view your article here--on chinapost tonight. I'm so glad to contact with you and your wife, Captain Nelson Liu, me and all of our crew will remember you and your wife forever, both of you and your friends in Saipan gave us so much encouragement as we visited Saipan. We enjoy the fruits and vegetable which sponsor by you. We lost all of your contact Tel No and e-mail, hope can get reply from you and get the contact with the friends of Saipan

--best wishes
Angela Chao
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 Princess Taiping rammed by unknown vessel 
The wreckage of the Princess Taiping off Suao. An unknown freighter rammed into the replica of a three-masted Ming war junk early yesterday morning. (CNA)

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