Chinese Treasure Fleet: 1405-1433
CHINESE TREASURE FLEET 1405-1433
The Ming Dynasty treasure ships made seven voyages as a great fleet between 1405 and 1433 under the direction of the eunuch admiral Zheng He in 400 feet long, nine masted giant junks known as bao chuan (treasure ships) loaded with a cargo of porcelains, lacquer ware and fine art objects. When Columbus set sail sixty years later in a fleet of three small ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the 85 foot long Santa Maria, he may have used charts or maps that had been preserved from the voyages of the Chinese. Louise Levathes, When China Ruled the Seas
The Chinese Treasure ship is the name of a type of vessel that the Chinese admiral Zheng He sailed. His fleet included 62 treasure ships, sometimes called junks, with some said to have reached 460 feet (140 meters) long. The fleet was manned by over 27,000 crew members, including navigators, explorers, sailors, doctors, workers, and soldiers.
According to ancient Chinese sources, Zheng He commanded seven expeditions. The 1405 expedition consisted of 27,800 men and a fleet of 62 treasure ships supported by approximately 190 smaller ships.