AP - Wednesday, February 11

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - The Cambodian government has asked foreign partners to help bring up a centuries-old vessel discovered by divers off the southwestern coast in 2006, an official said Tuesday.

It is believed that the wooden sailing ship _ laden with pottery and other artifacts _ is Chinese and was sunk in the 15th or 16th century, said Chuch Phoeung, Deputy Minister of Culture and Fine Arts.
A number of Chinese ships have been found in Southeast Asian waters in recent decades, with many yielding a wealth of artifacts and information about China's seafaring history.
The ship _ 98 feet (30 meters) long and 25 feet (8 meters) wide _ has not been identified but Chinese characters were found on some of the 900 pieces of pottery that have been recovered from it.
The minister said the artifacts are in a warehouse and that a museum will eventually be built to house them.
Chuch Phoeung said there had been attempts by two teams _ one Chinese and one Russian _ to bring the ship up but they lacked the money and expertise to retrieve the wreck. "Cambodia is lacking money, and we don't have divers or the technical expertise," Chuch Phoeung said, adding that the operation would cost about $1 million.
The shipwreck was discovered in February 2006 by local divers at a depth of 105 feet (32 meters) in Koh Kong province, some 130 miles (210 kilometers) southwest of the capital Phnom Penh.

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