Historic navy ship sold as scrap iron gets last minute reprieve

A ship that began service in World War II, and was recently sold as scrap metal, may be kept as a historical monument after the navy decided to postpone signing a sales contract for one month.

[See previous story: Veteran navy ship sold for scrap.]

The tank landing ship Chung Hai ( 中海) was decommissioned in 2010 after 65 years of service with the ROC Navy. Since then it has been berthed in the Port of Kaohsiung.

During its service in the ROC navy Chung Hai had taken part in many battles against Chinese Communist Party forces during, and in the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War.

The navy had floated plans to sink the aging ship in a missile firing exercise. Then the Kinmen County Government applied to move the ship to Kinmen Island to keep as an historic monument, but the plan fell through due to funding problems.

Chung Hai LST 201 in port before decommissioning
The Chung Hai, LST-201 while still in service with the ROC Navy.

Recently, the navy decided that the ship’s deteriorating hull constituted a sinking hazard, and put the vessel up for sale. After a bidding process, the ship was sold to a scrap metal dealer for NT$14 million.

The sale drew condemnation from historians and military enthusiasts who saw the ship as an important cultural heritage artifact.

Even the scrap dealer was concerned about the backlash of public opinion if he were to dismantle the ship.

The navy then decided to postpone signing the sales contract with the winning bidder for one month, while relevant government agencies come up with a plan to possibly keep and restore the ship as an historic monument.

The Kinmen County Government issued a press release earlier this evening saying that it is coordinating with the Ministry of Defense to seek an alternative solutions, and to preserve “this important historical asset.”

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Sources: United Daily News, China Times, Liberty Times

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