19th Century Chinese cruiser Zhiyuan identified

19th Century Chinese cruiser Zhiyuan identified

Zhiyuan was a protected cruiser in the late Qing Dynasty Beiyang Fleet sunk in combat in 1894.

Chinese cruiser Zhiyuan ca.1894
Chinese cruiser Zhiyuan ca.1894

The shipwreck was first discovered in 2013. It was first code-named "Dandong No.1" and has been tentatively identified as the Cruiser Zhiyuan.

On 17 September 1894, during Battle of the Yalu River - the largest naval engagement of the First Sino-Japanese War, involving ships from the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Chinese Beiyang Fleet - the Zhiyuan came under attack from Japanese cruisers. It was hit in the bow by a Japanese shell after which the Chinese cruiser rapidly sank with the loss of 245 officers and crewmen out of a complement of 252 complement.

According to China Radio International's English Service, in the past month, over a hundred relics have been salvaged from the depths of the Yellow Sea, including canons, shells, and other artillery.


The most crucial piece of evidence for the ship's identity is a shattered porcelain plate that features the words 'Zhiyuan' written in the middle of its back.

Song Jianzhong with the National Center of Underwater Cultural Heritage tells CRI all of the recovered items will studied further.

"Archaeology mainly focuses on the investigation, excavation, study and protection of cultural relics. Items to be found during the current underwater probe will be sent to labs where they will undergo procedures of de-watering, desalination and de-sulfating before being renovated and pieced together."