Hai Tien

Protected Cruiser
Hai Chi
Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth
& Company Ltd.
Elswick, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
Hull Number:
November 25, 1897
Keel Laid:
February 16, 1897
March 28, 1899
Wrecked Apr. 25, 1904

Location: East China Sea, Shengsi Islands, China

Crew removed, guns salvaged, ship total loss.

Ship's history (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hai Tien had a very brief and uneventful career in the Qing Navy. Shortly after the start of Boxer Rebellion which plunged China into chaos, the Beiyang Fleet was sent to reinforce the Dagu forts on 31 May 1900. During this time there was an uneasy state of high alert between the increasing number of foreign warships and the Chinese fleet, although tensions were high no shots were fired between the two sides. Eventually on 16 June 1900, the twenty-three ships of the Eight-Nation Alliance anchored off Dagu made an ultimatum to the fort, demanding its surrender to the allied fleet in order to relieve the Siege of the International Legations in the capital, Beijing.

The commanding officer of the forts, General Luo Rongguang refused and open fired on the foreign ships, leading to the Battle of Dagu Forts. The anti-Boxer governor of Shandong, Yuan Shikai ordered the Beiyang fleet south, in order to prevent the possibility of the outgunned ships from being captured or destroyed by the alliance navies, as had happened to the four new German-built Hai Long-class destroyers and the torpedo gunboat Fei Ting. These five ships were captured by allied forces during the capture of the forts dock facilities. From Dagu, the remains of the Beiyang fleet, which consisted of the protected cruisers Hai Tien, Hai Chou, Hai Chen, and the torpedo gunboat Hai Ying, sailed south to Shanghai and finally to Jiangyin where they quietly stayed for the next year with the Nanyang Fleet until the end of the war on 7 September 1901.

Less than four years later at 5:30 AM on 25 April 1904, Hai Tien under the command of future admiral Liu Guanxiong was sailing to Shanghai from Zhifu when he became engulfed in fog at Weihai. Hai Tien overshot the entrance to the Yangtze River and struck a pinnacle rock just off the Shengsi Islands in Hangzhou Bay. Her crew had abandoned her by the evening and was rescued by passing Chinese customs cruisers. Attempts to salvage the ship failed save for the rescue of her EOC 8 inch 45 caliber guns. This left Hai Chi as the sole surviving member of her class for the rest of her service.

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Page published Mar. 25, 2020