In the 15th. Century Chinese Admiral Zheng He (1371 - 1433) made a series of world voyages with a huge fleet of vessels. These voyages have been described in two books "1421" and "1434" by Gavin Menzies, a former British Royal Navy Officer. His work and theories have largely been confirmed by research done by his own team and the Chinese Government.
Now with the current expansion of China the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is building ships and making world wide voyages once again. The PLAN naval training ship is named after him and PLAN Zhenghe 81 is currently making a five month voyage around the world. Her dimensions are, displacement 6,103 tonnes, length 132 M, breadth 15.8 M and draft 4.8 M.
The vessel sailed from the Naval Port of Dalian in northeast China last Monday with 308 naval personnel and 110 Cadets from the Dalian Naval Academy. Over the five month voyage she will visit Vietnam, Malaysia, and India then cross the Indian Ocean to transit the Suez Canal enter the Mediterranean visiting Italy, and Spain. Leaving Europe she will cross the North Atlantic to visit Canada.
During the voyage Cadets from 13 other countries will be invited to make passages in the vessel to live and train with the Dalian Naval Academy Cadets. It should be an enviable experience for all these naval personnel. This is another "harmonious mission" by PLAN in the theme of the visit last year of their hospital ship PLAN Daishando 866 to the Caribbean and Central America.
During her passage from India to the Suez Canal the PLAN Zhenghe will transit the Horn of Africa piracy region. Some 300 of our fellow seafarers are held hostage by pirates off the coast of Puntland, Somalia and as such they face mutilation and death every day.