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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gunboats at the Evergreen Maritime Museum

Since there has been such intense interest in Taipei's Evergreen Maritime Museum, I have decided to tell you more over two or three more posts.  This one focuses on three fascinating models of steam-powered boats that plied Chinese waters in the nineteenth century.

Ping Yuan -- cruiser.  Launched on January 29, 1888, and originally named Long Wei, this was the first steel-armored cruiser built in China, her design based on the French Acheron-class gunboat. In 1890 she was transferred to the Beiyang Fleet, and renamed Ping Yuan.  The Ping Yuan fought in the Battle of the Yalu River, damaging the Japanese flagship Matsushima (of which there is a model upstairs). Captured in the siege of Weihaiwei in 1895, she became part of the Japanese Imperial Navy.  In 1904 she met her doom, hitting a mine in Pigeon Bay, west of Port Arthur.

This lovely model is is of the Jing Qing, another cruiser.  She was a composite (wooden planking over an iron frame), and fitted with a ram bow. Built in the Foochow Naval Yard, she was launched on December 23, 1885, and joined the Nanyang Fleet, based in Shanghai. At the end of the Qing Dynasty she was transferred to the Yangtze river fleet, and in 1918 she was decommissioned and converted into a commercial vessel.

And here is the steamship Wan Nian Qing, China's first wooden-hulled, steam-driven vessel to exceed 1,000 tons. Launched on June 10, 1869, she was not a gunboat, per se, but served as a transport between Taiwan and Fujian,  She sank after a collision with a British steamboat in the East China Sea (near Shanghai) on January 20, 1887.  Since then, her name has been given to a chemicals tanker .... 

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