Chinese authorities identify 19th-century warship

Chinese soldiers dressed as Qing Dynasty guards and as an emperor perform in a ceremony at a park in Beijing. A late-19th century warship has been officially identified in northeast China, according to state media. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

BEIJING, Jan. 14 (UPI) — Chinese authorities have officially identified an early modern Chinese warship the Japanese navy sank more than 120 years ago, more than three years after its discovery.

The wrecked Zhiyuan, which was unearthed in 2013 after more than a decade of searching, was the target of Imperial Japanese naval strikes during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95.

Archaeologists had already identified the 2,300-ton armored cruiser that once belonged to the late Qing Dynasty’s North Sea Fleet.

China’s Liaoning Province finally confirmed the Zhiyuan’s identity, China’s Xinhua news agency reported Saturday, local time.

According to the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Liaoning Province, the ship was identified through a step-by-step confirmation of records, the location where the ship was sunk, and its preservation status.

The ship was deployed in September 1894 during the Sino-Japanese War and was the target of heavy fire from Japanese forces.

Deng Shichang, who captained the Zhiyuan, ordered the armored cruiser to ram an enemy ship.

The vessel sunk during battle measured 61 meters in length, 11.5 meters in width and 8 meters in height.

But the wreckage of the ship’s hull discovered in 2013 measured only 2.5 meters in height.

Despite the extensive damage to the ship discovered in a seabed off the coast of Dandong, a Chinese city that borders North Korea, Chinese archaeologists were able to identify sections that included waterproof cabins, a boiler room and the decks of the hull, according to Xinhua.

The Qing Dynasty’s North Sea Fleet was a modern naval unit that was composed of German and British naval vessels, built with the support of Li Hongzhang, who held important positions in China’s imperial court.

More than 200 pieces of artifacts were also recovered from the shipwreck, including a naval telescope that includes the inscription of the name of its owner, Chen Jinkui, the chief mate of the Zhiyuan, according to the report.

A replica of the Zhiyuan accessible to the public was built in 2014 in Dandong.


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