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Cruise to improve Taiwan-Philippine relations a success

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A team comprised of retired R.O.C. Navy officers and a businessman completed a 2-day journey across the Philippine Sea, stating that they were inspired to undertake the feat in an effort to promote amicable relations between Taiwan and the Philippines in light of a number of fishing disputes in recent years.

In the middle of June, four retired naval officers (Lin Jun-hong (林俊宏), Sun Shih-wei (孫士偉), Huang Bih-hsiang (黃必祥) and Wu Chao-chin (吳昭進), along with their friend Chen Han-ching (陳漢卿), a Taiwanese businessman based in the Philippines embarked on a journey to traverse the Philippine Sea, covering 68 nautical miles over 16 hours of sailing in two days.

The team rented a sailing ship and relied solely on favorable winds to stay mobile, a stark change for the retired officers who had served as captains of their respective naval ships and submarine.

The five-man crew stated that they each had to work as part of a seamless team throughout the journey while facing numerous challenges, including inclement sailing conditions of heavy rain and high waves, limited food and fresh water aboard and the lack of favorable winds that left them crawling at 4 to 5 nautical knots per hour.

Although the journey was ultimately cut short from the 10 days originally planned to two days due to hazardous weather conditions, the five-man crew was able to cross Batangas Bay and the Verde Island Channel.

The team recounted a leisurely day after they dropped anchor at the Philippines' Mindoro Island, where they enjoyed diving and swimming with dolphins and sea turtles.

Most notably, during their stay in the Philippines, the team visited a U.S. naval base and participated in the American Independence Day celebrations while conducting diplomatic and cultural exchanges in their personal capacity.

Lin, a former naval officer stationed in the Philippines, stated that he hopes to ease growing tensions over fishing disputes through civilian exchange events and programs and bolster the friendship between Taiwan and the Philippines.

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