SINGAPORE - A former World War II German minesweeper docked in Singapore on Tuesday (March 13) this week - not as a navy vessel, but its 33-metre tall reincarnation: sailing boat Fleur de Passion.
The boat, which has undergone a series of extensive restoration, is currently on a four-year round-the-worldexpedition with a Swiss crew who aim to chart the impact of human activity on the oceans.
Fleur de Passion is making its inaugural stopover in Singapore, where it will remain till March 25. Before then, the team hopes to share its mission by offering guided visits of the ship.
Started under the auspices of Swiss non-profit Fondation Pacifique and the funding of several Geneva-based organisations, The Ocean Mapping Expedition set off from Seville, Spain, in April 2015.
The vessel is following the route which Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan took 500 years ago as part of a then-unprecedented expedition to find a western maritime path to what were once known as the "spice islands".
Centuries later, however, the team behind the expedition hopes to find something else.
With four scientific research programmes currently underway, the expedition collects extensive data on the pollution of oceans.
Its projects include the real-time transmission of noise pollution across oceans to labs, monitoring the extent of bleaching of coral and testing sea water to determine its content of plastic micro-pollutants.
"We hope to gain a better understanding on how humans impact the ocean and raise awareness on sustainable development issues," said Mr Samuel Gardaz, vice-president of Fondation Pacific.
As part of its latest pioneer programme, The Winds of Change, the expedition's partner scientists have been monitoring the concentration of greenhouse gases on the surface of oceans. The project's preliminary batch of findings were released here on Wednesday, highlighting several greenhouse gas "hotspots" within the region.
Dr Daniel McGinnis, 46, noted Singapore's relatively low methane concentration levels.
"There's not much agriculture here and Singapore is very proactive on plant and water management, so methane levels in the harbour are much lower than what we've seen in other places," said Dr McGinnis, who helped to helm The Winds of Change project.
However, the expedition is not purely scientific. Its crew of around 12 has members as young as 14 who have joined as part of an educational outreach programme.
Several cartoonists have also come on deck for weeks at a time, sketching the expedition's journey.
"Sometimes it's hard because we have to wake up early in the morning, but I've learnt a lot of things here," said Ugo Donatelli, 16. "Like how to sail the boat."
Schools are welcome to contact James Cook University, one of the expedition's partner institutions, for guided tours of the Fleur de Passion next Monday (March 19).
Members of the public can also request a tour via appointment, subject to availability.