“The expedition cruise of the Spirit of Majapahit ship reflects the maritime spirit of Indonesia that continues to surge. This maritime spirit has become the character of Indonesia,” Jero said.
The Spirit of Majapahit, a reconstruction of a 13th-century Majapahit-era merchant ship copied from the relief panels at Borobudur, will visit Brunei, the Philippines, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
The ship, built by 15 craftsmen in Madura, is unique because of its oval shape with two sharp ends designed to break through waves of up to five meters.
Made from old and dry teak, petung bamboo, and a type of wood from Sumenep, East Java, the vessel, Indonesia’s largest traditional ship, is 20 meters long, 4.5 wide and two meters tall.
It has two wooden steering wheels at the stern and an outrigger on both sides that serves as a counterweight.
The sails are attached to poles forming an equilateral triangle, and the stern of the vessel is higher than the front porch.
But unlike the traditional ship on which it was modeled, this modern-day version is equipped with state-of -the art navigation equipment, including Global Positioning System, Nav-Tex and a marine radar.
The reconstruction was the result of advice and recommendations from the “Discovering Majapahit Ship Design” seminar held by the Majapahit Japan Association, a group of entrepreneurs in Japan who pay tribute to the history and culture of the Majapahit Empire .
The association is a vehicle for developing cooperation and researching the history of the Majapahit Empire more thoroughly so that it can be admired by Indonesians and the international community.
Jero said he hoped the expedition would encourage the younger generation of Indonesians to appreciate the spirit of Majapahit Empire, which flourished on Java from 1293 to about 1500. He said he hoped the greatness and glory of the empire could be enjoyed, appreciated and regarded as a source of pride by young Indonesians.
The Spirit of Majapahit is skippered by two officers, Major (Navy) Deni Eko Hartono and Risky Prayudi, with three Japanese crew members, including Yoshiyuki Yamamoto from the Majapahit Japan Association, who is the leader of the expedition.
There are also some young Indonesians aboard the vessel and five crew members from the Bajo tribe of Sumenep.
The Spirit of Majapahit will be preserved in a museum and turned into a tourist attraction after it returns to Indonesia from its journey.
Antara News Agency
Editor – BAJA was contacted by the ship’s organizers regarding a souvenir, but due to some error on our part, we never did get to meet up with them when the ship was in Brunei on Friday 30th July until it left port at 4pm on Saturday 31st July 2010. We sincerely apologise to the ship’s organizers and hope them safe seas and favourable winds on their onward journey.