(The Shipwreck at Khoai Chau photo by Le Thi Lien courtesy of the Institute of Archaeology).

The Shipwreck at Khoai Chau

This is a partly broken, wooden boat about 30 meters long and 5 meters wide. The shipwreck was discovered in December 2008 at Khoai Chau, located in Dai Tap, in the Red River region. By February 2009, the vessel was salvaged and pulled onto shore. After being informed of the shipwreck, Hung Yen Museum sent staff to coordinate with the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Khoái Chau district, the CPC set up to conduct record checks and organize preliminary assessment.

Realizing that this is valuable heritage, Hung Yen provincial People's Committee dated 13.03.2009 issued Decision No. 526/QD-UBND, about the recovery of the preserved ancient ship at the Provincial Museum. Under the direction of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Provincial Museum planned to move and conduct preservation as a museum ship. Due to the large size and heavy weight, and the hull had rotted, so the move had to be carried out both on sea and on land. From 25/4/2009 until 4/5/2009, the whole wreck and the accompanying exhibits were shipped to the museum.

Initial study results showed that the type of ship was powered by steam engines (using coal and wood materials). The lower part of the hull is covered with copper sheet, iron nails were used to mount components on board and wooden nails (treenails) to mount the planks to the ship's hull wood frame. The bow is quite intact. The deck has been snapped. Much of the wooden hull has rotted. The engine parts that were detachable went to the museum courtyard.

In the cargo compartment was discovered many faux (often used to dye fabric) and wooden boxes labeled Chinese goods "Jiangnan". Also found some machine tools used on ships as well as a number of domestic utensils such as dishes, cups, especially found some coins from Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty, including the reigns of Gia Long Thong Bao (1802-1819), Minh Mang Thong Bao (1820-1840) and Tu Duc Thong Bao (1848-1883). In addition to the the Indo-China coins, were Chinese coins (the Qian Long Tong bao 1736-1795), and one British coin (dated 1875) which are mostly dating from the eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century.

Through the artifacts that were collected, initial identification suggests that this is may be a foreign merchant ship (from the Western countries) that sank during the period of the late nineteenth century. The ship was run by steam engine (powered by coal and wood materials). The causes of the sunken ship has not been determined. In the main cargo compartment is faux (used to dye cloth). The owner of the ship might be Chinese (in outcrop ships statue of white porcelain Chinese style; boxes containing instruments are recorded in kanji "Jiangnan" ...).

Currently the hull is preserved under a temporary roof. Due to the hot and humid tropical climate, the wooden components are continuing to dry and crack. The problem is creating a conservation management plan for the long-term preservation of this ship. We look forward to the comments from the experts in this field.

Article and photos by Nguyen Dang Quy and Le Thi Lien

Previous  Next