True Leviathan of the Middle Ages, this ship represented a logical outcome of the Traditional Junk.
The largest Chinese vessels were those of Admiral Zheng He's fleet, sent by Emperor Ming Yongle to join the African coasts, consisting of more than 200 junks of all sizes, ranging from the giant junk-admiral to the 62 boats more conventional, to the smallest auxiliaries. In 1405, this fleet sailed with thousands of Imperial merchants and emissaries in order to establish contacts and open trading posts well beyond the traditional zone of influence of China.
Operating to the east of the Portuguese, the Chinese descended to the Cape of Good Hope. But also discovered Indonesia, and it is possible that they have completed a round the world. This memorable expedition which ended in 1533 (Zheng He died in 1434, victim of the conspiracies of the Emperor's advisers and his successors wanted to hear more about this type of expeditions), included a very hierarchical set of 2 great commanders , 93 commanders, 140 millerions and 406 centurions for 26,800 soldiers and 868 civilian officers, a finance reporter, a geographer, an instructor and two military judges, 180 medical officers and their assistants, and for the continuation of Zheng He, 2 ordinances , 7 eunuch ambassadors, 10 young eunuchs, 53 chambellans eunuchs. The chief admiral was himself a eunuch.
These treasure ships, according to the Chinese texts which report the numbers of this fuse, were junks of 130 to 150 meters long for 40 to 60 of wide and 1500 to 2500 tons, with a crew of 1000 men and about 100 merchants and their families housed in the apartments of these ships with up to 6 bridges (compared with the 40 meters of Santa Maria de Colomb, almost a century later ...) and equipped with nine masts and up to 12 battened sails. Dimensions that are questionable for wooden vessels, but it must be said that the very special technique of the Chinese, far ahead of Europe at the time, and specifically on these flat-bottomed ships, allowed a great rigidity authorizing of such dimensions. Each junk had 16 to 30 huge guns, more to frighten than sink an enemy fleet ... There were seven expeditions launched in total, all under the command of Zheng He.
In one of them, nine junks ran aground in 1421 in the Caribbean during a storm. According to Gavin Menzies, a British submarine officer who supported this thesis in 2000, it is possible that the Chinese had set foot on an island in the Amerindian continent, long before Columbus, and that the Chinese summarized in the trunks of certain Italian travelers, including Nicolo da Conti, selling themselves under the mantle to the most illustrious European navigators ... we can imagine the consequences for "official" (Western) history.