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Jewel of Muscat gifted to Singapore

(Our Correspondent) / 20 July 2010

MUSCAT - The Jewel of Muscat, the Omani vessel which recently completed a historic five-month voyage from here to Singapore via India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, was on Sunday successfully lifted from the water at Keppel Bay in Singapore.

It will now be displayed on Sentosa Island, one of the country’s major tourist attractions.

“The operation took almost a full day and involved wrapping a large sling around the Jewel’s hull to act as support while she was slowly craned out of the water and inspected for damage,” officials said.

The Omani sewn-plank ship began its journey from Muscat on February 16 and arrived in Singapore on July 3.

The 60-foot-long vessel took after a 9th century wreck of a ship that was carrying more than 60,000 pieces of Chinese ceramics, silver and gold artefacts, spices and other commodities, now known as the Tang Treasure, that was discovered in 1998 in Indonesian waters.  The crew used ancient navigation methods dating back to the 9th century AD, notably a traditional compass called Al Kamal, a small piece of wood tied to the body in such a way to help calculate the latitude.

The boat has been presented to Singapore as a gift to mark centuries-old ties between the sultanate and the island nation.

An independent team surveyed the ship and reported that the Jewel of Muscat’s hull is in “good physical shape and free from any cracks or damages,” the officials said on Sunday.

The ship is currently kept in the shipyard of Bok Seng Logistics, near the western end of Singapore. 

Workers are now removing the ‘chunam’ or  quick lime, which had been applied to the hull below the waterline to keep it watertight during the voyage.

Once it is all removed, the bottom of the hull will be repainted with a thick, white acrylic layer to replicate how Jewel of Muscat looked during her voyage.  

It will then be taken to Sentosa to be exhibited at the Maritime Experiential Museum at the end of September or early October.   

“The museum will then be open to the public in early 2011 where the Jewel of Muscat will be a centre piece in the museum’s tribute to the maritime silk route and Oman and Asia’s rich maritime history,” the officials said.

ravindranath@khaleejtimes.com                                                     

 
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