The Treasure Fleet

The most well-known and grandest example of Chinese maritime power and exploration is the Treasure Fleet of emperor Zhu Di. In 1403, Emperor Zhu Di ordered 337 new vessels to be built and 188 boats to be refitted for oceangoing. This was the beginning of a flurry of shipbuilding, and voyages of trade, communication, and exploration to be carried out by the Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne (the title of the Chinese emperor). Between 1404 and 1407, an additional 1,681 or more ships were built and added to this vast fleet. For most of the voyages of this fleet, the eunuch admiral Zheng He (also spelled Cheng Ho) was in command. Because of the need for materials and labor for this massive shipbuilding effort, most of the Chinese empire was involved, in one way or another, with the construction of the Treasure Fleet. For more on the Treasure Fleet.