A replica of Admiral Zheng He's 15th Century ship is under construction in Nanjing, & will set sail to retrace worldwide voyages in 2014
The replica will undertake its first of eight expeditions after going on a trial journey in August 2014, according to the Nanjing maritime safety administration. A captain, boatswain and chief engineer for the ship are to be chosen by the end of this year.
To adapt to modern requirements of navigation and ensure the crew's safety, the ship will be equipped with advanced technologies
Zhao Zhigang, general manager of Jiangsu Longjiang Shipbuilding said: "It is the world's biggest handmade wooden ship," Zhao said. "The ship's mast will be 38 meters tall, and its six sails, when they are unfurled, will cover an area of 600 square meters." Various Chinese historical sources hold that the biggest treasure ship was about 127 meters long and 52 meters wide.
The wooden ship is being built in part in observance of China's Maritime Day, recently held to mark the anniversary of Zheng He's first voyage in 1405.
"The construction of the ship provides a chance to revive traditional Chinese shipbuilding techniques," he said. "Large wooden ships built to explore the world's oceans have not been used in China for 500 years" added Zhao, "The vessel is being built with the help of craftsmen from families that make traditional wooden ships. The oldest of them is 78."
Zhao said the ship, if well-maintained, can be used for 30 to 50 years.