Taiwan warship that fought PLA invaders designated 'historic antiquity'

Last Taiwanese Navy ship to sink communist Chinese vessels in battle to be preserved for posterity

Chung Hai. (Facebook, @ROCNAVY.tw photo)

Chung Hai. (Facebook, @ROCNAVY.tw photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A venerable old warship that saw combat against communist Chinese forces and was originally bound for the scrapheap has been designated a "historic antiquity" by the Taiwanese government.

On May 15, the Taiwanese Navy announced that it would sell the Chung Hai (中海號, LST-201), a tank landing ship, for scrap metal. Military enthusiasts were alarmed by the news and immediately began rallying support to have the ship preserved for its historic value.

According to a resolution passed by the antiquities review committee of the Bureau of Cultural Heritage on Thursday (July 9), the Chung Hai has been designated an "important antiquity" (重要古物) and will not be demolished or sold, according to its official website.

According to the minutes of the antiquities review meeting published on its website on Thursday, among the 14 members present, one deemed it to be a "national treasure," while 13 members felt it should be designated as an "important antiquity." The committee then came to the conclusion that the ship should be designated as an important antiquity, and its name has been amended to "Chung Hai Navy Warship and Related Cultural Relics."

The Navy said that it has not yet received an official notice from the bureau but that it is willing to cooperate on the issue, reported UDN. As for how the ship will be preserved, Navy officials said they will need to study and discuss the matter.

According to NavSource Online, the ship was laid down on May 20, 1944, at American Bridge Co. in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and launched on July 11, 1944. The ship was first commissioned as USS LST-755 tank landing ship on Aug. 3, 1944.

The landing ship saw action in the Luzon Operation in January 1945 and the Consolidation and Capture of the Southern Philippines in April 1945. On May 29, 1946, the ship was transferred to what is now the Taiwanese Navy in Qingdao, China, in accordance with the Sino-U.S. Cooperative Agreement and was renamed the Chung Hai.

While defending Kinmen from invading People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958, the Chung Hai was credited with sinking at least two Chinese torpedo boats. While voyaging from Taiwan to Kinmen, the vessel was struck by a torpedo that inflicted heavy damage and 30 casualties, including eight dead and 12 wounded.

The Chung Hai also fought in the Zhoucun-Zhangdian Campaign in 1948, the Battle of Nanshanwei Island in 1950, the Naval Battle of Zhejiang in 1954, and the Battle of Dachen Archipelago in 1955, among others. When the ship was decommissioned on February 1, 2010, it was the last Taiwanese Navy vessel to have seen combat against Chinese warships.