The UK-EC funded expedition will spend 47 days on the wreckage site of the MV Derbyshire which went down in a typhoon off Japan in 1980 with the loss of all 44 people on board. Concerns about structural failure on the 169,000-tonne Teesside-built carrier led to a union-sponsored expedition examining the wreck in 1994. Their findings resulted in this official expedition being mounted, the results of which could be known later this year.
The United States research vessel Thomas G Thompson was due to leave Guam, in the Pacific, today to travel to the wreckage site 400 miles off Okinawa. The survey team is equipped to obtain complete Sonar and photographic coverage of the wreckage field. An official inquiry into the disaster in 1987 said the weather was probably to blame. But families of the crew and shipping experts have argued that the disaster was caused by structural defects in the vessel.