About National Maritime Day
Zheng commanded expeditionary treasure voyages to Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. According to legend, his larger ships carried hundreds of sailors on four decks and were almost twice as long as any wooden ship ever recorded.
On July 11th 1405 under the orders of the Ming emperor Zhu Di, admiral Zheng He embarked on a series of trade and diplomatic missions. Zheng He's first voyage departed from Suzhou in his ship, 'the raft of stars'.
During these voyages he took a fleet of over 300 ships and 27,000 men down the South China Sea and across the Indian Ocean. His travels took him to places such as Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Saudi Arabia and then down the east coast of Africa. En route he visited numerous islands - too many to mention here. Many of his ships were huge. Modern research indicates that they were over 400 ft long and had a beam of around 160 ft. Compare these dimensions with the largest of the 19th Century clipper ships which were approximately 250 ft in length and 45 ft beam. During these voyages Zhenge He took the opportunity to decimate the activities of the swarms of pirates which had plagued shipping in these regions. The last voyage was made in 1432 under the instructions of the Ming emperor Zhu Zhanji. Sadly, it was to be the now elderly admiral's final journey - he died part way through the voyage.