Two dead after Taiwan’s largest and most advanced research vessel sinks

Two people are reported dead and 43 have been rescued after the Taiwanese-flagged ocean research and survey vessel ‘Ocean Researcher V’ sank Friday night off the southwest coast of Taiwan.

The 2,700-ton Ocean Researcher V, or OR V, is the flagship research vessel of the Taiwan Ocean Research Institute (TORI), part of the National Applied Research Laboratories operating under the Ministry of Science and Technology for the Republic of China. The vessel is officially owned by National Science Council.

Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper reports that of the 45 people onboard, two were killed and 43 have been rescued, including 25 people who sustained injuries.

The report adds the ship sank Friday night just after 8 p.m. in the vicinity of the Penghu Islands, located in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and the China mainland.

The area was likely experiencing weather related to Typhoon Vangfong just to the east.

Officials confirmed that the two who died were both researchers. The report said that according to a Coast Guard Administration official the ship may to have hit a reef.

Ocean Researcher V was delivered in August 2012 and had its maiden voyage to the South China Sea in March 2013. The vessel is the largest and most advanced research vessel ever built in Taiwan.

The vessel is designed to carry out advanced scientific research and open ocean exploration missions. With accommodations for 18 crew and 30 scientists, OR V can operate at sea for up to 50 days and with a range of 13,000 nautical miles. It is considered particularly suited for carrying out precise scientific missions even through heavy seas and winds.

OR-V currently provides a variety of services for different research institutes, governmental agencies and projects of the National Science Council of Taiwan, according to TORIs website.

The latest AIS data from MarineTraffic.com shows the vessel underway off Tainan City on October 5.

The Taiwan Ocean Research Institute (TORI) was established in 2008 with the goal of becoming a world-class institute of marine science and technology and carries out ocean research missions in the South China Sea in and around Taiwan’s territorial waters. The research ship is considered one of its core technology platforms.