Beijing, Jul 17.- In an attempt to rescue traditional Chinese techniques of shipbuilding, a replica of a wooden ship from the Zheng He (1371-1433) fleet will sail the maritime routes of the ancient Silk Road, in eight expeditions.
Admiral Zheng, explorer and diplomat of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), led the fleet of this country in seven trips around the Indian Ocean between 1405 and 1433. According to historical references, their boats visited South-East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
After a test sail, the new ship is expected to make the first expedition in August 2014, according to the Maritime Safety Administration of Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province.
The replica, which is the same size as one of the main models of Zheng's fleet, 71.1 meters in length, is the largest wooden ship in the world, and the largest ever built by hand, said Zhao Zhigang, General Manager from Jiangsu Longjiang shipbuilding company.
The mast, 38 meters high, has six sails that cover an area of 600 square meters, he said.
He added that to suit the requirements of modern navigation and guarantee safety of the crew, the ship will be equipped with advanced technologies for communications, rescue and fire control.
Its life expectancy is estimated at 30 or 50 years if kept in good condition, he said. (Radio Cadena Agramonte).