Wreckage of sunken battleship found

By Wang Kaihao | (China Daily )| Updated : 2019-09-04

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Archaeologists identified a shipwreck off the coast of Weihai, Shandong province, as the Dingyuan, a famous battleship sunk during the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95).

According to a seminar on Liugong Island in Weihai on Monday, more than 150 cultural relics, including sailors' personal belongings, pieces of the wooden deck and cartridge cases, have been retrieved from the site during an underwater archaeological investigation this summer.

The Dingyuan was the flagship of the Beiyang Fleet during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The 94-meter-long ship was built in Germany.

On Feb 10, 1895, while moored in harbor, the Dingyuan was attacked by a Japanese fleet and ran out of ammunition. It was scuttled at sea by the Chinese Navy to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

In 2017, archaeologists began using historical files as reference and applied digital imaging technologies to determine the location of the wreckage. They removed thick layers of sand to expose part of the ship's hull.

Zhou Chunshui, who leads the project under the National Center of Underwater Cultural Heritage, revealed that the wreck was in "poor condition".

"The entire superstructure of the ship has disappeared," Zhou said. "The scattered discoveries are mainly of mechanical cabins and crew quarters below deck."

Japan salvaged some components of the Dingyuan in 1896 and built them into a house in Fukuoka.

Zhou said follow-up research of the wreck will continue next year to get more comprehensive information after additional portions of the ship are extracted from the seafloor.

The National Center of Underwater Cultural Heritage launched an archaeological program in 2014 to investigate the shipwrecks of the Beiyang Fleet. The Zhiyuan and the Jingyuan, two Chinese cruisers sunk in the Battle of the Yalu River on Sept 17, 1894, have been found off Liaoning province.

The two vessels were basically in good condition, according to Jiang Bo, an archaeologist at the center.

The Beiyang Fleet was hailed as the strongest in Asia on the eve of the First Sino-Japanese War and Liugong was its main hub. Nevertheless, the fleet was annihilated during the conflict.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. Liugong Island, former office site of the Beiyang Fleet, has been developed into a "foundation for patriotic education" to remind young generations to learn from the bitter lessons of history.

Xinhua contributed to this story.



A replica of the Dingyuan battleship is berthed at a port in Weihai, Shandong province.Zhu Zheng / Xinhua


A fraction of the battleship's hatch is displayed on Monday.Wang Yang/xinhua


A bronze plate of the battleship is exhibited.Xinhua