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NOTE on nomenclature!
A number of modern-day western sources wrongly use the false naval prefix “CNS” for the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
While few communist nations and some socialist nations indeed used naval prefix before the ship name, this is not true for the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Interestingly neither the Soviet Navy followed the “naval prefix” rule.
There is some usage however of the term “PLAN” (People's Liberation Army Navy) and for practical purpose it’s heavily used in this page. Originally, the text used the term “Kuomintang” to refer the loyalty of the ships part of the (unrecognized) “Republic of China” Navy, to respect a political neutrality status of this forum, the term was changed with “Nationalist”: commonly used by western sources.
The page make heavy use of Chinese sources, articles and pages including yidianzixun.com, hxsbs.com.cn and pmume.com. Other valuable data from Navypedia (even if there are some mistakes) and wrecksite.
Differences with the last-updated page on Soviet-empire forum:
1) Added defections of Nationalist ships Zhang Bai and Huang An in early 1949
2) Added more details of loss of communist cruiser Tchoung King in March 1949
3) Added defection of nationalist gunboat Chang Chi on september 1949
4) Added defection of nationalist merchant Hai Liao on 19 September 1949
5) Added defection of nationalist landing craft Lien Rang on October 1949
6) Added the Blockade of Shangai, with losses of communist merchants (25) as well one incident with an American cargo in early January (colored in red, despite nationality, because was trading to Shangai).
7) Added defection of nationalist merchants (15) on 15 January 1950
8 ) Added mining of British ship Anhui on 16 June 1950
9) Added losses of cargos Valve, Santos and the nationalist attacks against British Anhui again in June 1950 with reaction of a British warship.
10) Extra info for loss of San Antonio and Jeep He (including date fixed, on 21 August). Plus added damage to Tsinan on 16 August 1950
11) Added the losses of Nationalist patrol boats Fang-3 and Fang-8 on unclear day of 1950. Losses reported by Navypedia, i didn't found extra info or a detailed Chinese mention of these losses.
12) Added loss of nationalist ship Lien Sheng on 13 April 1953, unclear reasons.
21 March 1927
Battle of Nanking.
During the battle of Nanking for the first time, revolutionary forces within the Kuomintang army rebelled and controlled briefly the important city on the river while western navies helped the Army bombing communist positions. Chinese revolutionaries managed to prepare for battle a little tug used as gunboat that tried to attack but with no results.
However, the coastal artillery damaged the American destroyer USS William B. Preston(one hit of 76mm) and sniper fire from shore killed one American and one British sailor. The fate of the little armed tug is unclear: probably it was abandoned/grounded without contact with enemy.
The first proper naval vessel of the communist China (and the very first loss) was the ex-LCT type landing craft Heyong. Recovered, because accidentally stranded on river in northern Jiangsu province. Interestingly, the vessel acquired with subterfuge (PLA officers posing as enemy) and secret collaboration of the sailors
The very first battle, fought against local pirates.
The Heyong landing craft led two sailboats in Sheyang River estuary, hunting for two pirate sailboats.
One boat escaped, but the communist vessels focused on the larger pirate boat: a gunnery fight begun and followed with a ramming and boarding attack performed by 8 sailors. After cutting off the sail of the boats, the sailors captured the pirates: the prize included robbed gold, 1 small gun and 10 rifles.
Pirates later revealed to be men of a local gang lord (an unaffiliated bandit).
The story of the very first communist Chinese warship ends when two Nationalist fighter-bombers surprised on sea the landing craft Heyong.
After some resistance (with 20mm), the Heyong sunk with 3 KIA (including political officer) and other crewmembers wounded.
6 January 1949
The first ship to join the communists was the icebreaker Zhang Bai, which departed Dagu in the Bohai Bay to reach Qingdao. When the ship failed to show-up the local Kuomintang press reported she was likely sunk during a storm but the ship actually defected.
13 February 1949
The first of various military warships to defect was the escort ship Huang An (former Japanese type-C). Taking advantage that most of the officers were ashore at Qingdao, 65 sailors and one officers who pledged loyalty to the Communist Party took control of the ship and directed her toward Lianyungang. The ship was then renamed Shen Yang.
25 February 1949
The only cruiser of the Nationalist navy, the ROCS Chung King, defected after a mutiny. It is interesting that the ship was the former British cruiser HMS Aurora (bearing the same name of the famous Russian cruiser Aurora). The cruiser was renamed Tchoung King (actually bearing the same name but differently Romanized).
18 March 1949
PLAN cruiser Tchoung King received damage after Nationalist air bombing, with 4 sailors KIA. The ship suffered a continuous series of air attacks from 17 to 19 March by B-24 Liberator bombers after Chiang Kai Shek personally ordered to sink the ship. While many sources indicate she sunk on 25 March, the Chinese command decided to scuttle the ship on their own on 20 March (even if she received no mortal damage).
Decision to scuttle the cruiser was essentially made to avoid further aircraft raids at the risk of higher casualties and total-loss damages to the hull.
She was raised with Soviet assistance on 16 May 1951, at first with plans to restore her combat capabilities but because of excessive costs she was retained only as accommodation and warehouse ship.
20-21 April 1949
The British sloop HMS Amethyst came under fire from People’s Liberation Army ground artillery in Yangze River. The British Navy was not engaged in the conflict, but friendly to Kuomintang. The ship received up to 50 hits, with extensive damages and temporally grounded.
British destroyer HMS Consort and sloop HMS Black Swan tried to tow the ship, but failed: Consort suffered multiple hits,
The following day, the Amethyst regained the ability to sail but constant fire from PLA ground batteries trapped her. The British sent the heavy cruiser HMS London, alongside with the HMS Black Swan, for a second attempt. Ground batteries did not hold fire and engaged the ships, causing damage to both and forcing them to retreat. People’s Liberation Army suffered 252 killed after the British ships’ fire; British suffered 46 killed and 64 injured (most of them on Amethyst).
Eventually negotiations for the release of the ship (and crew) failed to solve the situation with People’s Republic of China refusing to recognize the previous Chinese treaties of free sailing. The battle was the only direct naval clash between People’s Liberation Army and a western nation during the civil war.
21 April 1949
Nationalist small gunboat Pao-50 (ex-Japanese “25t type”) while sailing from Jiangyin toward Shanghai, shelled and sunk by PLA ground artillery.
23 April 1949
Yangze Fleet Uprising
With the communist forces advancing toward Shanghai, the Nationalist ordered the Yangze 2ndFleet to retreat and attempt a breakout once the PLA took position on the river, thus preventing the navigation of the Fleet. The local flotilla commander Lin Zu decided to switch side and join the PLA, actually allowing commanding officers to vote their intention. Some warships complied with the Nationalist request and attempted to escape, directed by the Admirable-class minesweeper ROCS Yong Jia. Commander Lin Zu’s flagship was escort ship Hui An (ex-Japanese vessel Shisaka) but he decided to avoid opening gunfire against the departing warships but attempted to call them back. Four ships returned including the riverine gunboat Chu Tung.
While some sources indicate that there have been naval gunfire, this is denied by PLAN account and it seems the Nationalist warships only received fire from ground artillery of the PLA. Repair-ship (ex-landing ship, not to be confused with a pre-war gunboat. She was ex-USS Achilles) ROCS Hai Hsing suffered hits and grounded with heavy fire, the old riverine gunboat ROCS Yung Sui sunk while ex-Japanese escort ship ROCS Wei Hai grounded accidentally because of heavy fog and the crew surrendered to nearby communist troops.
The three lost vessels eventually recovered and used by PLAN. While some Taiwanese sources modern praise the actual breakthrough, the actual defiance to Nationalist order and defection of most of the Fleet was a serious propaganda blow for the Nationalist forces that disclosed the divisions and low morale of many commanding officers.
In 1949 (unclear month)
Nationalist gunboats ROCS Wen Hsing and ROCS Yun Hsing lost, probably due coastal artillery. Wen Hsing raised by PLAN and re-commissioned.
Sometimes rated as “Custom cruiser”, they were more like revenue cutters (340 tons, 1 – 2 guns of 40mm).
28 April 1949
PLAN escort ships Hui An (later recovered) and Jian (spelled as well as “Shian”) sunk by Nationalist aircraft near Yaniji. Differently from Hui An, Jian was considered a total loss and scrapped after recovering only the weaponry, however she lost no man because the entire crew was on shore for political teaching.
1 May 1949
An uncommon case of failed mutiny occurred on Nationalist patrol ship ROCS Yun Hsiang: 3 communist sailors attempted to take control of the ship after killing the commander, but the attempt failed: they were later gassed alive into a cabin of the ship. Nationalists will rename the ship Wei Yuan to honor the commander.
On the same day,
According own Chinese sources, the PLAN riverine gunboat Tai Yuan sunk in Caishiji River after Nationalist air raid. She was formerly USS Wake, took by Japanese during WW2, most of western sources do not indicate their loss by air raid after she joined the PLAN.
12 May – 2 June 1949
When the Nationalists lost the battle for Shanghai, People’s Liberation Army ground artillery damaged at least seven Nationalist vessels while eleven other vessels were seized in harbor.
On unclear day, Chinese merchant Ha Sin (2484 GRT), sunk by Nationalist plane in Shanghai, later raised for scrapping.
3 July 1949
Nationalist merchant Cheng Huo (1791 GRT) sunk by PLA ground artillery in Yangtze River.
14 July 1949
Chinese merchant Tung Nan (1188 GRT) sunk by Nationalist plane in Wenchow.
30 July 1949
The British sloop HMS Amethyst, trapped by People’s Liberation Army batteries’ fire since April, escaped during the night exploiting the passage of the Nationalist ferry Kiang Ling, that was targeted and sunk by communist shelling with many victims while HMS Amethyst fled.
17 August 1949
Chinese merchant Tung Shan (2499 GRT) sailing from Shanghai to Pukow without cargo sunk by Nationalist plane. Eventually raised and repaired.
5 September 1949
Chinese merchant Kiang Hsin (3571 GRT) sunk by Nationalist plane in Shanghai.
The Nationalist gunboat Chang Chi (ex-Japanese Uji) defected to communists; she was later renamed “Nanchang” the following year taking part in some fighting during 1954.
19 September 1949
PLAN riverine gunboat Chiang Hsi damaged by Nationalist plane, but she did not sunk. Repaired and returned to service after changing name into Fu Jiang. Some sources mistakenly claim she was the former Japanese gunboat Fushimi, but she was actually her sister-ship Sumida. There are also different transliteration of the Chinese names. On the same day, the crew of Nationalist merchant ship Hai Liao mutinied and defected to communists.
23 September 1949
PLAN gunboat Yung Sui sunk by Nationalist B-25 bombers near Yangjiagou. She was an pre-war gunboat with relatively strong weapons, previously recovered after the Yangze Fleet Uprising, but some sources mistakenly say she was recovered after the air raid. At the same time, PLAN gunboat An Tung sunk by Nationalist plane at Wuhu, also this second ship is commonly described by western sources as survived but actually she sunk during the raid.
The Nationalist landing ship Lien Rang defected to communists (ex-American LCI-632), eventually renamed Yung Kan.
25 October 1949
During the Battle of Guningtou (also known as Battle of Kinmen), PLAN used up 200 different crafts to carry an amphibious attack against the island.
Most of the crafts were fishing junks, unarmed, powered by sail and some only capable to carry 5 to 10 men.
The battle turned a defeat for the People’s Liberation Army, and the entire group of 200 landing crafts stranded by the tide or trapped by anti-landing obstacles. Troops disembarked and quickly left the landing area, leaving the crafts effectively undefended.
Nationalists wasted no time and destroyed the flotilla with grenades, flame-throwers and setting fire. Additionally the Nationalist landing ship Zhong Rong opened fire with 40mm and 20mm.
The action cannot be classified as the (only) lost “naval battle” of PLAN because by its own nature was not a naval battle at all.
The battle was the first significant victory for the Nationalists, halting the long series of victories on the mainland and helping securing the independence of Taiwan. On the other side, PLAN learned many lessons from this defeat.
Blockade of Shanghai
Between September and December 1949, the Nationalist Navy initiated a blockade against any kind of vessel sailing Shanghai. Interestingly many ships sailed British-controlled Hong Kong, causing a political argument between the two sides. Up to 25 Chinese merchant ships were lost during this blockade.
Early January 1950
An interesting accident occurred when the American-flagged merchant Flying Arrow (14000tons) in route from Hong Kong to Shangai was shelled by Nationalist gunboat Wuling at the entrance of Yangze River. The ship suffered a fire because of the shelling and received assistance from the British sloop HMS Black Swan. When the British departed, the ship was detained by the Nationalists. Once realizing the nationality of the ship, the Nationalists stated they “opened fire on the ship” to warn them away from the danger of mines. British and American sources of the time were skeptical of this explain.
15 January 1950
13 merchant ships of the Nationalists defected to the communist after the crew mutinied.
5 March 1950
Battle of Hainan Island
The first proper naval battle, and the first Chinese communist naval victory.
Hainan is a large Chinese island near Vietnam, during the war it was of extreme importance because the Nationalists aimed to hold her as a second Taiwan.
A fleet of 14 Nationalist warships, helped by some dozens of smaller boats, sailed to defend her waters.
Like the previous Battle of Guningtou, the PLAN employed only former fishing junks, but some of them armed with mountain guns for self-defense.
The landing fleet was composed of 2130 naval units (only a fraction included larger junks armed with guns).
When the Nationalist flagship, the escort destroyer Tai Ping, attempted to engage the landing units, a naval battle erupted.
A close-range fight erupted when Tai Ping approached junks (believing they were unarmed) just to receive surprise fire from the mountain guns hidden onboard the Junks.
The escort destroyer ROCS Tai Ping suffered heavy damages and forced to retreat. Among casualties there was fleet commander Wang Enhua, died of wounds. Details of the following action are unclear: Nationalists found in disadvantage when their anti-armor piercing shells proved unable to explode against the light wooden crafts, piercing the hulls (and thus causing heavy damages to a number of them) but without scoring sinking while, the communist mountain guns caused more damages to multiple vessels. Additionally, close-range fight prevented the Nationalists to aim correctly the guns on smaller vessels.
In the end, the PLAN forces successfully accomplished the amphibious landing and by 1st May the Nationalist resistance into the island was over.
The battle was also significant being a victory of old-style Chinese junks against modern western-built metal warships.
Other western sources still point that an unidentified number of PLAN junks were lost during the Hainan operation for all causes, but the outcome of the fighting is not questioned.
24 May 1950
British tanker Ebonol (1158 GRT) sunk south of Swatow with a cargo of sugar and passengers. One source said because of Nationalist mine, actual reason seems more bad weather. She was sailing to Hong Kong, thus making it a target for the Nationalists that attempted to prevent the Chinese trade too the British enclave.
25 May 1950
Battle of Wanshan Archipelago
Another naval battle that saw a number of interesting events.
Nationalists attempted to prevent the communist take-over of the islands with a naval force including the escort destroyer ROCS Tai Ho, the minesweeper ROCS Yong Ning, ROCS Yong Ding, ROCS Yong Kang and the landing ship ROCS Zhong Hai and some auxiliary units.
For the first time, PLAN employed proper modern ships, even if inferior to the enemy.
The largest warship was the landing ship Gui Shan (spearheading the main landing force) a former LCI American craft.
The main escort force were five small auxiliary gunboats:
Xia Feng (translated “Pioneer”) (the larger one, Japanese built, 130tons with 1 gun of 37mm and other weapons),
Jie Fang (translated “Liberation”) (29 tons, 1 gun of 25mm, 2 machine guns of 12.5mm, 1 recoilless gun)(She was a former American LCC craft),
Fen Dou (translated “Struggle”) (80 tons),
Lao Dong and Quian Jin (translated “Work” and “Vanguard”), (sister-ships, ex-Japanese, 25tons, 1 gun of 25mm and 2 machine guns of 12.5mm).
The communist commander was Captain Lin Wenhu, a former Nationalist officer who defected and joined the PLAN.
Just before dawn, the gunboat Jie Fang was engaged in an extremely bold action: alone, she approached the enemy flotilla and opened fire on the anchored ships at close-range. The main deck of escort destroyer ROCS Tai Ho (flagship) was hit, killing and wounding a number of officers (including the fleet’s commander, Qi Hongzhang, who lost an arm), causing further chaos among the Nationalist. Sometimes it’s reported that one ship was sunk but this is not true, instead the minesweeper ROCS Yong Ding and ROCS Yong Kang suffered damage, while the landing ship ROCS Zhong Hai had a fire onboard. Jie Fang paid a price for this success: suffered heavy damages but did no sunk. Of the 19 crewmembers, 3 died and 13 suffered wounds.
The action successfully took the attention of the enemy, because the Nationalist were lured to chase the retreating gunboat and the main landing group could approach the coast. During this action, gunboat Quian Jin intercepted the Nationalist auxiliary gunboat n°25, that was then engaged also by gunboat Xia Feng: n°25 was captured (later sent drifting to the sea because took water from damage), 2 sailors killed and 7 captured.
A second Nationalist auxiliary gunboat, n°26 attacked the Fen Dou, but quickly suffered a direct hit in the oil depot and exploded taking the lives of the 10 crewmembers.
The amphibious assault was carried on, even if the first and largest unit, the Gui Shan, was hit the enemy warships who realized their mistake and gave up the chase of Jie Fang: barrels of diesel exploded engulfing the ship in fire: there were many casualties, however a bridgehead was secured. Nationalist restrained for further attacks and retreated to tends the wounded (including their commander). Later the Nationalist Navy attempted a blockade to prevent further sea re-supply, including a large operation on 27 June, but without other naval contacts and the Archipelago was secured by People’ Liberation Army. The action of gunboat Jie Fang’s crew was largely praised by communist side and the ship was preserved as memorial.
16 June 1950
On the approach of the port of Shantou, British steamer Anhui (3494 tons) carrying 800 Chinese passengers onboard was blown-up by a mine.
The ship grounded to avoid the sinking and other vessels rescued the passengers. First incident involving a British-flagged ship after the mining by the Nationalist Navy (excluding the mysterious loss of Ebonol on 24 May).
17 June 1950
Close Tanzishan Island, PLAN auxiliary gunboats Gu Tian, Wei Gang and Che Qiao seized two barges on sea. Landed troops on the island, captured another couple of vessels.
19 June 1950
Panamanian-flagged vessel Valve (carrying 300tons of cargo) sunk on a mine while entering Huangpu River sailing to Shangai.
1 person died, the rest of the crew (all Chinese) rescued. Chinese sources mention the ship as “Fuhu”, despite the flag she was effectively a Chinese vessel.
Some sources mix-up this loss with the subsequent Greek vessel sunk.
20 June 1950
Greek-flagged merchant Santos (1297 GRT) sunk on a mine. 6 sailors killed. Ship mentioned in Chinese sources as “Xiangshan”. Commonly sources merge this loss with the ship “Valve” sunk the previous day. Santos was formerly an Australian auxiliary minesweeper: HMAS Orara, serving in WW2.
21 June 1950
Nationalist planes attacked the grounded British ship Anhui near Shantou. They also attacked the rescue-ship Hanyang that was attempting to refloat her.
23 June 1950
Nationalist planes attacked again the damaged British ship Anhui while she was under tow by tug Frosty Muller. This time the British sloop HMS Hart took action, opening anti-aircraft fire against the planes and chasing them away. The incident resulted in heavy condemnation of Nationalist’s attacks by British and Australian press of the time.
10 July 1950
PLAN small gunboats n°3 and n°103 (former Japanese riverine gunboat of “25-t” type) were on patrol at Dachen Island when they separated and n°3 alone encountered a larger unidentified Nationalist auxiliary gunboat. During the unequal one-to-one fight, small gunboat n°3 sunk. 12 KIA, 5 survivors. Some Chinese sources mistakenly identify the unit lost as n°103 (likely due similar number), but she did not took part at the encounter and saw action two days later.
12 July 1950
Battle of Pishan Island
PLAN small gunboats n°103, n°104 and n°107 (under leadership of captain Zhang Jialin), attacked a group of Nationalist warships during the operation to conquer the Island.
Nationalists possessed the larger auxiliary gunboats Hai Ying, Xin Bao Shun, Jing Zhong-1 and Jing Zhong-2 (all Japanese-built vessels of 150tons).
During the attack, gunboat Jing Zhong-1 encircled and surrendered after the loss of the captain (Li Xibeng), gunboat Xin Bao Shun trapped inside the harbor (while the other ships escaped) and engaged in a fierce fire-fighting: eventually she was rammed by n°107 on the stern suffering heavy damages and being immobilized before sinking due combined gunfire. PLAN sailors also performed a boarding action capturing part of the crew after inflicting further damages with hand-grenades. In addition, three sailing vessels, trapped into the harbor captured. Overall, the Nationalists lost 50 estimated killed and 100 prisoners, while on PLAN gunboats there were 10 wounded. Some sources mistakenly claim also the sinking of both Hai Ying and Jing Zhong-2.
A group of 30 communist junks landed troops that captured the island.
24 July 1950
Philippines merchant San Antonio (1960 GRT) (1000tons of general cargo) sank by mine off Woosung in Yangtze River. First time a ship from an anti-communist nation but effectively trading with communist China sunk by the Nationalist piracy’s policies. 3 Chinese sailors died, in Chinese sources sometimes mentioned as “Xinning”.
16 August 1950
British-flagged ship Tsinan sailing from Hong Kong to Shangai hit a mine at the mouth of Yangze River but she received only minor damage without casualties, took in tow back to Hong Kong. In Chinese sources is mentioned as “Jinan”.
9 August 1950
During the amphibious landing and following battle of Nanpeng Island, People’s Liberation Army forces seized a motorized vessel and twenty junks in harbor (there was no naval clash).
21 August 1950
British merchant Jeep Hee (1063 GRT) (400tons of general cargo and rubber) sunk on a mine off Woosung while sailing from Hong Kong to Shanghai. First time a British vessel sunk by the Nationalist piracy’s policies. Some sources indicate the loss on 23 August, Chinese sources name the ship “Jiexi”. All crewmembers rescued. Sinking location was close to the place of previous damaging of Tsinan.
9 November 1950
Nationalist tug Tsze Hong (468 GRT) sunk for unclear reasons (apparently an accidental foundering) off Taiwan.
13 November 1950
Nationalist merchant Ting Chu (1791 GRT) shelled and sunk by PLA artillery off Chiencow while sailing to Quemoy islands with a cargo of rice.
15 December 1950
During the aftermath of the landing operations in Zhoushan Island (close Nanzhao mountain), there was a clash between a Nationalist minesweeper (Admirable class) with the PLAN auxiliary gunboat Zuyni (AKL-type converted vessel) escorting three landing ships and smaller crafts. No reported hits on both sides.
On the very same day, but operating in another area of landing for the operations in Zhoushan Island, PLAN small gunboats n°221 and n°222 destroyed on sea a small convoy of five sailing boats and another boat suffered damages, killing on sea 70 men (apparently the boats were crowded with soldiers).
On unclear days of 1950, the Nationalist Navy suffered the losses of two patrol boats: Fang-3 and Fang-8, both formerly Royal Navy harbor defense motor launches. There are very few information about these two losses.
23 June 1951
Battle of Taimen
The battle begun as a reaction of the PLAN to a series of harassment raids made by Nationalists in Sanman Bay on fishing boats.
PLAN small gunboats n°411, n°413, n°414 (former n°107, led by captain Zhang Jilian) and n°416 taking part at the battle were part of the “25-t” class and received an upgrade with replacement of light weapons with heavier Soviet-made 25mm. The PLAN formation spread wide and this proved to be a mistake because n°414 ended approaching alone a formation of four Nationalist auxiliary armed sailboats (two of them larger, 150tons), who were going to chase three PLAN transport boats. At first the n°414 managed to pass for a friendly Nationalist vessel just to attack the enemy and throwing them in confusion and making them flee. n°414 focused her fire on a 150-tons armed vessel, inflicting damages, but after a while the enemy realized it was just a single PLAN vessel chasing them. n°414 found herself surrounded, suffered heavy damages and 6 WIA, but was saved by the arrival of n°411, n°413 and n°416: collectively they sunk a 100-tons armed vessel and chased away the rest of the group. Nationalists reportedly lost 30 KIA and 20 WIA.
Interestingly, some PLAN sources believe the enemies engaged were privateers, so their combat record is unlikely to appear in Taiwan’s historiography.
During early ‘50s, the Nationalists fully endorsed private activity of piracy aimed to harass the naval economy of communist china.
Nationalists defined such operations as carried on by local “Naval Chinese guerrilla” while it is clear ships (often former fishing junks) and sailors hailed from Nationalist -controlled islands. The People’s Republic of China defined such actions as nothing more than piracy. Technically speaking, they can be considered “privateer” activity (private piracy endorsed and sponsored by a political-war faction). However, it is clear they operated with poor control from Taiwan’s authority.
Current western literature fully utilize the term “pirates” to describe them, the article will follow a mixed classification (but keeping them apart from the modern-day anti-piracy operations in Somalia).
During three years of active peak (1950-1953) over 90 naval incidents reported (ships attacked, damaged, sunk, seized, or temporary hold until ransom is paid).
Two-third of them involved British merchants: despite ideological differences, the British authorities from Hong Kong engaged in trades with mainland China and the Nationalists aimed to disrupt this trade. Significantly, the Nationalists demanded pirates to seize merchants and sail them to Taiwan, however in many cases they contended to seize the cargo and leave the ships or demand ransoms to the merchants and allowing the ships to sail away once it was quickly paid.
Among the most interesting incidents, the grotesque incident of Panamanian merchant Taluei: pirates “contended” to plunder the cargo, but the weight was excessive and the pirate junk sunk as consequence!
Another peculiar incident occurred on 11 February 1951 when pirates seized the British merchant Wing Sang. The ship was not involved with trade with mainland China, but with the same Nationalists! To demonstrate their “distance” with the pirates, Nationalists executed the pirate captain (ironically for once pirates returned to Taiwan with the prize!). On the same day, Nationalist Navy temporarily seized a Norwegian merchant (see: following entry “Nationalist Blockade”)
One of the final and significant cause of friction between pirates and Nationalists was the seizure of British merchant “Admiral Hardy” on 8 September 1952: pirates immediately released her once crew paid a ransom. This made clear to Nationalists the gaps in their strategy and it was then abandoned.
The Nationalist navy sometimes engaged directly or in support of pirates, some of the incidents are:
On 13 February 1951, temporary seizure of Norwegian merchant Hoi Houw (cargo of medicines) by 3 Nationalist destroyers, later released.
Between 17 and 19 February 1951 failed pirate attempt to seize the British merchant Nigelock (ex-HMS Nigella) (cargo of fruit) and merchant Josephine Moller.
On 15 April 1951 seizure of Panamanian merchant Perico by the Nationalist Navy.
People’s Liberation Army anti-pirate operations claimed up 52 pirate ships sunk or seized (over 600 pirates killed).
While numbers are high, they appears realistic due the sheer number of pirates: overall, this could represent the highest number of surface victories scored by a communist navy in warfare! (Similar numbers occurred only with the Soviet operations in Manchuria 1945, but mostly seizures of the local fleet that made no real resistance).
NOTE: considering Taiwan had no desire to make plain the connection with pirates, there is no documents on their side assessing single episodes. Communist data are equally rare, fragmented and sometimes missing clear details as exact dates.
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Re: (From Soviet-empire): Chronology of naval warfare during the Chinese Civil War and later conflicts
During the amphibious landing and following battle of Nanri Island, Nationalists successfully defeated the People’s Liberation Army, only to abandon the island shortly later due orders. There are little details, but it appears that PLAN made the first use of Soviet-made motor torpedo boats: during the action, Nationalists claim to have sunk 3 motor torpedo boats and 3 junks (not confirmed by PLAN). There was no involvement of Nationalist vessels, so losses were probably caused by artillery fire and aircrafts, still their identity (and confirmation) is not clear. If confirmed, boats were certainly Soviet-built project 123K.
20 October 1952
Nationalists re-captured Nanpeng Island (poorly defended), and the People’s Liberation Army organized a counter-attack. People’s Liberation Army used junks to land their forces, without naval opposition and reconquered the island.
13 April 1953
The Nationalist ship Lien Sheng (125 GRT) burned and sunk reportedly on her maiden voyage. There are unclear details of the episode (and no details for the cause of her loss), but it’s known that the American military tanker USS Mispillion rescued 14 crewmembers, while other 27 died in the incident.
29 May 1953
People’s Liberation Army launched an amphibious landing at Dalushan islands, while two gunboats escorted the landing junks and bombed the enemy ground forces. Nationalists were defeated, there was no naval fight but two junks seized in harbor. Seizures achieved by patrol boats n°513, n°514, n°515 and n°516 (all Type53 class).
24 June 1953
While supporting a successful landing operation, PLAN patrol boats n°513, n°514, n°515 and n°516 (all Type53 class) briefly skirmished with Nationalist frigate Hui Yang. PLAN also employed the gunboat Zunyi (former American AKL cargo) and the corvette Linyi (originally a Flower-class British corvette): both ships only made ground shelling.
16-18 July 1953
Nationalists tried to re-capture the Dongshan island, engaging 12 warships and 30 motorized junks.
Three large landing ships hit by mortar fire: shells failed to penetrate the ships, but detonated ammunition and triggered explosions sinking them in the main harbor.
The wrecks blocked the way to the other landing ships (carrying heavy weapons), forcing the Nationalists to land men from the junks without heavy guns and ammunition carried on the blocked landing ships. After days of heavy battle, People’s Liberation Army won.
It is not exactly clear the kind of vessels lost by Nationalists: probably they were converted ferries/transport because no former American landing ship was known to have been lost during this battle.
9 September 1953
A fight between Hong Kong patrol boat ML-1323 against an unidentified gunboat: she suffered damages and casualties (7 killed) but managed to sail back to port. While Hong Kong sources identify the attacker as a “communist gunboat”, there is no trace of this by PLAN. It is possible it was a genuine incident (communist China still valued trading with Hong Kong) or more likely a misidentification of a Nationalist or a pirate/privateer vessel or either a “false-flag” accident committed to blame the PLAN.
1953 - 1954
Nationalist Navy attempted to strength the Blockade on mainland China: at first the operations included attack of any kind of vessel, including Western Nations!
The British merchant Inchkilda attacked on 26 July 1953 by three pirate vessels but was rescued by the patrolling British light aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn: she was again attacked on 24 October 1954 causing British and America diplomatic reaction. Another vessel attacked multiple time was the British merchant Nigelock: at first captured on 16 August 1953 by the Nationalist Navy but then rescued by British frigate HMS St.Brides Bay: she was attacked another time by submarine chaser ROCS Huang Pu, just to be saved by British destroyer HMS Cockade on 24 August 1954.
Less fortunate were the Italian merchant Maribu (attacked by gunboats on 31 July 1953) and the Danish merchant Heinrich Jessen (on 9 August 1953): both seized and confiscated. These actions had little consequences apart creating a political rift between Chiang Kai-Shek and the western powers, especially the United Kingdom.
The Nationalist leader personally dictated the flagship, the former Japanese destroyer ROCS Tan Yang to attack shipping of communist nations.
The destroyer seized the Polish tanker Praca (8207 tons)(Cargo of fuel) on 4 October 1953, then shelled and captured the Polish merchant President Gottwald (5958 tons) (cargo of machinery and medicines) on 12 May 1954 and finally the Soviet tanker Tuapse (17716tons)(cargo of kerosene) on 23 June 1954. The three ships declared as war-prizes and integrated as military auxiliary vessels.
While all 62 Polish crewmembers were all released, the aftermath of Tuapse’s seizure was particularly brutal: Soviet crewmembers suffered heavy treatment, torture and abuse, Chinese sailors onboard the ship suffered worse and some were executed. The Nationalist authorities attempted to force the Soviet sailors to defect, but failed with 29 of them who were returned. 9 crewmembers nominally “defected” but 5 of them once in the USA reached the Soviet Embassy to return home, another was declared insane by the Americans and transported back to the Urss and the others managed to reach the Soviet consulate while visiting Uruguay.
4 other Soviet sailors who remained imprisoned in Taiwan were released only toward the end of ‘80s, while other 3 died of suicide or sickness.
The fate of 29 Chinese sailors onboard the three ships was also harsh: 3 executed, 1 died in prison, 5 died of sickness, 11 rescued thanks the Red Cross, 5 released after the end of ‘80s, 4 remained in Taiwan.
18 March 1954
PLAN gunboat Xingguo (former American AKL cargo) and the Yen An (pre-war Chinese ship) attempted an ambush against enemy warships in Sanmen Bay alongside the submarine chasers n°610 (unclear class, possibly she was an ex-Soviet project122a), n°612, n°614 and n°615 (last three were all ex-Soviet project122bis) and patrol boats n°505 and n°508 (Type53). PLAN units engaged a mixed-group of Nationalist ships led by escort destroyer ROCS Tai Ping, ROCS Tai Hu, ROCS Tai Ho, submarine chasers and minesweepers. The fight broke-off with the air strike of enemy P-47 fighter-bombers that inflicted damages on n°612 and n°505 (overall 3 KIA, 5 WIA). While Yen An claimed one hit on an enemy minesweeper, it is confirmed escort destroyer ROCS Tai Ping suffered one hit.
15 May 1954
The first of series of naval clashes occurred during the Dongji Islands campaign occurred on day 15.
PLAN gunboats Ruijin and Xingguo engaged the Nationalist escort destroyers ROCS Tai Kang, ROCS Tai Ho, minesweepers ROCS Yong Kang, ROCS Yong Shun, ROCS Yong Ding and submarine chaser ROCS Tuo Jiang. ROCS Tai Kang was the first one to open fire (toward Xingguo) but also the one that received greater damage: one direct 76mm hit demolished the front gun.
The hit confirmed by enemy source while their claim to have “set afire” the PLAN gunboats is baseless considering they continued to operate. Interestingly the Nationalist commander claimed he was forced to retreat after heavy coastal artillery shelling, but there was no PLA’s ground artillery involved in the action (it is possible the enemy overestimated the incoming fire).
16 May 1954
The second and largest naval clash during the Dongji Islands campaign begun when the stronger PLAN group led by gunboat Nanchang (ex-Japanese Uji) followed by corvettes Guangzhou (ex- HMS Nunnery Castle), Kaifeng (ex-British Flower class) and escort ship Changsha (ex-Japanese D class vessel) attempted to lure the enemy using Kaifeng as bait. The corvette successfully lured the escort destroyer ROCS Tai Ho that soon targeted by the other units (except Chongsha that experienced troubles at the main gun). ROCS Tai Ho suffered a direct hit (likely by Guangzhou or Nanchang) and retreated. While successfully chasing away the enemy, PLAN regret the outcome of the fight as a big missed opportunity (of 149 shells of 130mm and 100mm only 1 scored hit).
17 May 1954
On the third day of operations at Dongji Islands, PLAN gunboat Ruijin and Xingguo briefly engaged an unidentified unit (claimed damaged) and seized a junk. On a separate incident, gunboat Nanchang, corvettes Guangzhou, Kaifeng and escort ship Changsha engaged another unidentified ship, sunk a junk and seized a second junk.
18 May 1954
PLAN gunboat Ruijin (a former American AKL-class light cargo) was sunk by Nationalist P-47 fighters. 56 KIA, 40 WIA.
Sister-ship Xingguo also attacked but suffered no damage. The loss of Ruijin was the heaviest loss suffered during the campaign of Dongji Islands, which nevertheless ended in a victory.
19 September 1954
PLAN patrol boats n°531, n°532 and n°533 (all Type53) suffered an air raid in harbor by P-47 enemy fighters.
During the attack, n°532 sunk while both n°531 and n°533 suffered damages. 14 KIA, 12 WIA.
14 November 1954
First significant action and one of the most important victories of the PLAN motor torpedo boats.
The Nationalist escort destroyer ROCS Tai Ping, (the former American USS Decker) that already fought in the Battle of Hainan, was ambushed, torpedoed and sunk by the four motor torpedo boats n°155, n°156, n°157 and n°158 near the Dachen islands (at least 1 hit, of 8 torpedoes launched). There were 23 killed. It was the most significant Nationalist warship sunk by PLAN. It was a pre-planned attack, directly aiming to boost morale.
10 January 1955
The first successful attack by People’s Liberation Army Air Force on naval targets occurred, in preparation of the battle at Yijiangshan islands.
A group of Il-10 and Tu-2 bombers managed to sink the landing ship ROCS Zhong Quan (cargo of oil), while escort destroyer ROCS Tai Ho and the repair-ship ROCS Heng Shan were damaged. Some western sources make confusion over the losses because Heng Shan was actually repaired and renamed “Chung Chuan” (common transliteration for “Zhong Quan”), but they were indeed two separate ships both hit by the PLAAF bombers.
On that same day, PLAN motor torpedo boat n°102 torpedoed and sunk the Nationalist submarine chaser ROCS Dong Ting near the Dachen islands. The sinking was the result of an accidental meeting, the motor torpedo boat separated from her main group after technical failures.
20 January 1955
Battle of Yijianghsan Islands
An amphibious attack on 18 January included 70 landing vessels (including junks) escorted by 40 units including motor torpedo boats. Ten boats were armed with ground-to-ground rockets and bombed enemy position. The ground battle resulted in a communist victory and takeover of the islands.
The victory was achieved by a well-planned coordination of ground, naval and aerial power.
On 20 January, there was the only Nationalist attempt to attack the PLAN units: motor torpedo boats n°159, n°150, n°175 and n°178 attacked, torpedoed and sunk the submarine chaser ROCS Yin Jiang (claim of the single hit assigned to n°159). Many sources wrongly list also the ROCS Dong Ting as lost on this battle but was actually sunk ten days earlier.
On the same day,
Singaporean merchant Edendale (1717 GRT) sunk by Nationalist aircraft at Shantou. The British government released an official protest for the sinking because the ship reportedly was clearly marked.
21 January 1955
The Nationalist fighter-bomber P-47 (43 Sq, serial n°209, pilot KIA) shot down by naval anti-aircraft fire according to the same Taiwan’s sources.
So far, there is no direct Chinese available data with direct claim about this incident in internet open-source articles.
19 January – 26 February 1955
The campaign for the Dachen archipelago begun with aerial bombing, followed by Nationalist decision to retreat from the islands without fight.
18 February 1955
A short naval engagement between 4 Nationalist escort destroyers and a naval force of 4 patrol boats (n°547, n°548, n°549 and n°550) of Type53 escorting a group of landing crafts. Despite enjoying absolute naval superiority, the enemy failed to destroy the small convoy, causing only 3 WIA, and suffering 1 KIA and 3 WIA. PLAN also claim patrol boats n°547 and n°547 shot down a F-84 but this is unconfirmed.
20 February 1955
The Nationalist fighter-bomber P-47N (3 Sq, serial n°142, pilot KIA) shot down by naval anti-aircraft fire according the same Taiwan’s sources.
So far, there is no direct Chinese available data with direct claim about this incident in internet open-source articles.
10 May 1955
A small military ship reportedly exploded at Kaohsiung, in Taiwan island, killing 49 according American sources. Details unclear, but possibly it was a small transport carrying ammunition that could have triggered an explosion by mishap.
3 December 1955
A raid of Nationalist F-84 fighter-bombers damaged the small merchants Ronghe and Zhenxing (overall 3 KIA and 3 WIA).
19 December 1955
PLAN patrol boat n°535 (type53) sunk after hits by Nationalist F-84 fighter-bombers (17 KIA, 7 WIA).
Anti-aircraft defense claimed one plane shot down (of the attacking group of 10) but this is denied.
From 14 August to 10 October 1958
In different raids, the Nationalist air force claimed to have sunk three “gunboats” and damaged other six. Unconfirmed by PLAN sources.
24 August 1958
First Battle of Jinmen Island
During the military confrontation around Jinmen Island, a first convoy battle occurred. Nationalists engaged as escort ships the patrol ship ROCS Wei Yuan , leading the submarine chasers ROCS Tou Jiang and ROCS Xiang Jiang. They were escorting the transport ship Tai Sheng and the landing ships ROCS Zhong Hai and ROCS Mei Song. PLAN forces attacked the convoy with 4 motor torpedo boats and 6 patrol boats.
The transport ship Tai Sheng was torpedoed and sunk by motor torpedo boats n°103, n°105, n°175, n°178, n°180 and n°184 with the loss of 200 soldiers (two torpedo hits). Later the landing ship ROCS Zhong Hai was damaged (PLAN claim one torpedo hit, Nationalists believe by coastal artillery), during the fight PLAN lost the motor torpedo boat n°175 (4 killed, 3 captured). Nationalists made an overestimated claim of up to 7 PLAN boats sunk.
The battle was a clear PLAN victory with the bloody loss of an important Nationalist target.
2 September 1958
Second Battle of Jinmen Island
A second convoy battle saw again the same previous Nationalist escort ships (with only one replaced): flagship was patrol ship ROCS Wei Yuan , leading the submarine chasers ROCS Tou Jiang and ROCS Liu Jiang. Their mission was to escort the landing ship ROCS Mei Jian.
The convoy was attacked by six PLAN motor torpedo boats, n°103, n°105, n°174, n°177, n°178 and n°180 and the three patrol boats n°556, n°557 and n°558 (all type55A). Torpedo attack was a failure and patrol ship ROCS Wei Yuan sunk with gunfire n°174 and n°180.
While the transport successfully accomplished the mission, the three PLAN patrol boats attacked the submarine chaser ROCS Tou Jiang: n°558 scored at least two direct hits and caused heavy damages. The submarine chaser did not sunk, however needed towing and never repaired: decommissioned two months later and scrapped in 1964. Nationalists suffered 11 killed and 25 wounded. Differently from what reported by some sources, Wei Yuan was not damaged in action (while even some western sources claim otherwise).
Both sides claimed victory: Nationalists say to have successfully protected the target; PLAN claim to have established a blockade. Both sides made overestimation of enemy losses (Nationalists claimed up 12 PLAN ships lost, but that was a mistake). Both sides made high praises and awarded the two best units in action: Wei Yuan and n°558.
8 September 1958
Nationalist landing ship ROCS Mei Le, carrying ammunition to Jinmen island, sunk by People’s Liberation Army ground artillery (with explosion due cargo). The ship carried also soldiers and 91 died.
19 September 1958
PLAN patrol boats, including n°507 and n°527 (Type53) had a skirmish with a unidentified Nationalist submarine chaser (one of the standard American PC-class), and later n°556 and n°558 (both Type55A) joined the chase but the submarine chaser reached Jinmen island (claim of damages inflicted on the Nationalists is unconfirmed by enemy). Patrol boat n°507 suffered 2 hits, and the naval command criticized the failed mission (other two patrol boats did not coordinate well and could not engage).
29 September 1958
The only anti-air victory fully confirmed by both sides occurred when patrol boats n°507 and n°527 (both (Type53) opened fire against a C-46 transport plane, bringing it down. 2 airmen were captured by n°527, and eventually released on 30 June 1949.
2 February 1959
PLAN patrol boats n°565, n°566 and n°567 (all Type055A) engaged the Nationalist auxiliary gunboat n°63, sinking her in a quick gunfire. (NOTE: Some sources wrongly state “n°62”). Enemy suffered 11 KIA and 12 POW. Larger Nationalist ships attempted to sail in rescue of the gunboat, but did not arrive in time.
3 August 1959
According Taiwanese sources, the Nationalist destroyer ROCS Tan Yang engaged in combat two PLAN “patrol ships” or “corvettes” (old sources even stated “cruisers”!!) allegedly sinking one and damaging the second. There are no reported losses matching this claim, and it is while it is possible a skirmish occurred with limited to absent results, it is also possible the whole event is a fabricated story for propaganda purpose.
1 March 1960
PLAN patrol boats n°565, n°566 and n°567 (all Type055A) engaged the Nationalist auxiliary gunboat Yuanzheng n°517, sinking her in a quick gunfire.
Enemy suffered 12 KIA and 10 POW. This very same group of patrol boats scored a nearly identical success the previous year!
21 October 1962
The Nationalist infiltration ship Leping transferred agents on the sailboat M-1545F (55tons), to land agents but the whole plan known in advance.
Three agents disembarked quickly killed on the beach while multiple PLAN units trapped the sailboat. Among the many units, patrol boats n°504 (Type53) and n°587 (Type062) get in contact with the enemy boat, engaged in firefight and sunk her.
25 November 1962
PLAN patrol boat n°547 (a type53), n°567 (Type55A) and n°577 (Type062) intercepted and sunk with gunfire the Nationalist infiltration ship Xijin n°8
The enemy suffered 26 POW.
5 December 1962
PLAN patrol boats n°508 and n°518 (both Type53) intercepted and sunk with gunfire the Nationalist infiltration ship Xiangshun n°1
The enemy suffered 33 KIA (including ten desenbarked special forces) and 6 POW. A sister-ship, Xiangshun n°2 sailed back due technical problems before the PLAN attack and avoided destruction.
18 November 1963
PLAN patrol boats n°508 and n°518 (both Type53) intercepted and seized the Nationalist spy-ship T-3166M.
Enemy vessel forced to sail to port, while n°517 and n°527 joined the group (also Type53)
1 May 1964
The Nationalists sent two group of assault boats (“Hai Lang” series, only 4tons, but carrying 1 recoilless gun or 1 rocket launcher and machineguns): n°101, n°104, n°107, n°109 to attack shipping close Changbiao Island, and n°102, n°106 and n°108 to attack eventual PLAN escort. The whole strategy was a clear attempt to mimic the PLAN light crafts strategies but ended in a failure (technically all boats were part of the Intelligence, not the Navy). Multiple PLAN patrol boats pre-alerted and the first ones to contact the enemy were n°544 and n°546 (both type53): they attacked, hit and captured the assault boat n°104 while the other three of the group escaped. The group was further chased by the patrol boats n°572, n°576 and n°577 (all type062): apparently, n°572 alone managed to sink both n°107 and n°109, while n°101 escaped thanks the arrival of destroyer ROCS Tan Yang (n°577 briefly opened fire against the larger ship). Enemy human losses were 8 KIA and 4 POW (no PLAN losses).
1 June 1964
PLAN sources report about a skirmish against Nationalist vessels, with no result.
8 July 1964
The Nationalists dispatched the infiltration ships Man Qingshèng and Man Qingsheng (NOTE: transliteration almost identical except for accent in “shèng”) carrying 51 special forces to infiltrate the mainland. PLAN sent the escort ship Changsha (Japanese “D” class, from WW2) and minesweepers Changxindian and Shajiadian (both type6610, already on sea for minesweeping patrol) to intercept two enemy vessels, later augmented by frigate Hengyang and minor units. In the end it was frigate Hengyang (Type01) to intercept first the enemy, attacking Man Qingshèng until she raised white flag and surrendered (damage was too heavy however, and she sunk while in tow). Minesweeper Shajiadian (type6605) found Man Qingsheng, attacking the ship with gunfire and sinking her. As aftermath of the action, the enemy suffered 80 POW.
12 July 1964
A second notable incident included the two infiltration ships Dajin n°1 and Dajin n°2 (both 150tons) carrying 45 special forces (in addition to the combined crew of 29 sailors).
The landing in Guangxi was cancelled and during the voyage back they passed close to Hainan Island where the PLAN submarine chasers n°272 and n°274 (both type6604) intercepted them. Both infiltration ships sunk after gunfire, with 14 KIA (including the major He Guanzhen) and 60 POW.
PLAN units suffered 4 WIA during the battle.
1 May 1965
Battle of Dongying
Nationalist submarine chaser ROCS Dong Jiang engaged in battle 4 PLAN patrol boats s: n°574, n°575, n°576 and n°577 (not 8 as stated by Nationalists).
Most of western sources wrongly classify the Nationalist ship as a “destroyer”: actually, she was one of the many former US submarine chaser.
ROCS Dong Jiang suffered 7 dead and 43 wounded (19 seriously), while PLAN suffered heavy damages on patrol boat n°575 (no human losses), that was forced to be towed by n°577, that received less damage (also the two PLAN boats collided in action). Once again, both sides overestimated the results: Nationalists claimed up to 4 sinking, but indeed only n°575 and n°577 were directly engaged in battle.
6 August 1965
Battle of Dongshan (also known as “8.6 Naval Battle”)
Nationalists sent patrol ship ROCS Jian Men and submarine chaser ROCS Zhang Jiang on intelligence mission and landing of agents. PLAN (after radar alarm) dispatched a group of 6 motor torpedo boats (n°123, n°131, n°132, n°133, n°134, n°135) all of the new projec183 design. There was also a second group of five motor torpedo boats (n°119, n°120, n°121, n°122, n°136) and 4 patrol boats: n°588, n°598, n°601 and n°611 (all Type062). For the first time, PLAN introduced the project 183 class motor torpedo boats in combat. The first group of PLAN motor torpedo boats at first failed to intercept the enemy, and patrol boats engaged first: after a prolonged fight, ROCS Zhang Jiang was hit and sunk by the patrol boat n°611 (took some damage, awarded for the action) while patrol boat n°601 suffered more heavy damage (captain killed).
Eventually, ROCS Jian Men was at first damaged by the patrol boat and then located by motor torpedo boats and was torpedoed and sent to the bottom (10 torpedoes launched with 3 hits, main credit given to n°119 that was awarded, two attacking boats suffered slight damage). The outcome of the battle was a decisive communist victory. Mao Zedong personally congratulated with the crewmembers. Nationalists suffered 197 killed (including 22 officers), 33 prisoners and only 1 survivor (an agent, recovered by foreign merchant); PLAN suffered 4 killed and 28 wounded.
Once again, Nationalists attempted to cover-up the failure claimed up 3 units sunk, but this time the result was too much clear and the admiral Liu Guang Kai was forced to resign.
Decisive for the PLAN victory was the effective use of coastal radar to detect the enemy in time.
13 November 1965
Battle of Chongwu (also known as “Battle of Wuqiu”)
After the defeat during the previous Battle of Dongshan, Nationalists attempted to lure PLAN in combat to avenge the previous loss.
Once again they dispatched two ships: the patrol ship ROCS Shan Hai (often wrongly reported with the previous name Yung Tai) and the minesweeper ROCS Lin Huai (often wrongly reported with the previous name Yong Chang). PLAN was not took by surprise and dispatched four different group of units: patrol boats n°588 (flagship) and n°589, patrol boats n°573 and n°579 (to attack Shan Hai) and patrol boats n°576 and n°577 (to attack Lin Huai) all Type062. Last group included motor torpedo boats n°124, n°126, n°131, n°132, n°145 and n°152 (there were other units on sea, from both side, that did not took part at the battle) all projec183 design. The plan was to make the patrol boats act as diversion to allow the motor torpedo boats’ attack, however the m.t.b (like occurred in the previous battle) at first failed to make a successful maneuver.
Nationalists exploited this mistake and minesweeper Lin Huai fought against n°573, n°576 and n°579, damaged the patrol boats n°573 and n°579 (light damages) and inflicting casualties. ROCS Lin Huai herself however suffered damage and was then subjected to the launch of multiple torpedoes with n°145 scoring one hit (awarded for the action), finally during the last stage of the action both n°588 and n°589 scored multiple and decisive direct hits with 37mm and with the 75mm recoilless gun (n°588 was awarded). The ship grounded herself on Magong Island (damage suffered was too heavy for repair).
ROCS Shan Hai, fled from battle (commander was later reprimanded for cowardice), after having suffered some damage by gunfire, ship was not repaired (despite damage being moderate) What was meant to be a revenge by Nationalists turned in another bloody defeat: 82 sailors were killed and 9 took prisoners. PLAN suffered 2 killed and 14 wounded. Once again, Nationalists tried to partially cover the defeat claiming up to 4 PLAN boats sunk: both the Nationalist ship’s commanders were pointed as responsible for escaping from battle (even if the fault on the defeat was actually poor intelligence and battle-planning). Like the previous battle, coastal radar allowed the PLAN to detect the enemy in time and organize a battle plan.
29 May 1967
PLAN sources report about a skirmish against Nationalist vessels, with no result.
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Re: (From Soviet-empire): Chronology of naval warfare during the Chinese Civil War and later conflicts
19 January 1974
Battle of Xisha Islands
During the Vietnam War, People’s Republic of China provided help and support to North Vietnam, despite the neighbor communist nation was closer to Soviet Union. A single naval battle occurred between the South Vietnamese navy and the Chinese Navy around the contested Xisha (Paracel) Islands in the South China Sea.
Naval presence from both side in this disputed archipelago triggered the main clash.
South Vietnamese enjoyed superiority of size and weapon: 3 frigates (RVNS Ly Thuong Kiet, RVNS Tran Khanh Du and RVNS Tranh Binh Trong) and one corvette (RVNS Nhut Tao).
Chinese engaged in battle only two submarine chasers (n°271 and n°274) of type6604 (clone of Soviet project-122bis) and two minesweepers (n°389 and n°396) of type010.
NOTE: Interestingly, most of western sources wrongly report that submarine chasers were the most powerful Type037, but this is denied by photographic evidence.
The battle was fierce and at close quarter: Chinese ships took advantage because the Vietnamese could aim less correctly their more powerful guns.
All the ships engaged suffered hits. Among the Chinese units, submarine chaser n°274 was heavily damaged (Vietnamese believed her sunk) and withdrawn leaving behind thick smoke, minesweeper n°389 suffered heavy damages too and was grounded to evade loss (ship was recovered). Also submarine chaser n°271 and n°396 suffered light damage. 18 Chinese sailors died.
South Vietnam’s ship suffered worse damages: frigate RVNS Ly Thoung Kiet suffered heavy damage from friendly fire hit from RVNS Tran Binh Trong, the latter, alongside RVNS Tran Khanh Du suffered light damage by Chinese fire. The worst blow suffered by Vietnamese was the loss of the corvette RVNS Nhat Tao: she suffered multiple hits and sunk. Vietnamese claimed that the ship was hit by anti-ship missile, but actually they only witnessed anti-tank rockets fired by the crew of minesweeper n°389.Vietnamese suffered heavy human losses: 53 killed (including the commander of Nhat Tao) and 14 wounded.
Vietnamese retreated, while Chinese sent other two submarine chasers (n°281 and n°282) that could not engage the enemy.
After the naval clash, Chinese landed and took all the South Vietnam’s controlled islands of the Archipelago (during the lading they took 48 prisoners, including one American advisor).
North Vietnam’s reaction was quiet, without openly supporting the Chinese view. Today Vietnam claim the Islands as part of their territory (and such dispute is still unsolved).
8 January 1979
Reports concerning the seizure of three Vietnamese patrol boats (24 alleged POW) captured by a Chinese landing ship supported by an armed barge (on unclear date) are currently unconfirmed. This event can be related with the contact between Vietnamese patrol boats and a Chinese motor barge (40 tons) entering Vietnamese waters and soon joined by two Chinese warship: this event however, reported by Soviet sources on 8 January, led to no seizures or losses.
End of February 1979
Vietnamese patrol boat n°17 (or T-17? Unclear class) shelled, damaged and seized a Chinese fishing junk (4 POWs).
14 March 1988
Battle of Nansha Islands (Chinese name)
Spratley Archipelago include islands contested by different nations, including China and Vietnam (the dispute is still unsolved).
Growing tensions in 1988 culminated in Vietnamese operations that involved the landing ship HQ-505 and the armed transport HQ-604 and HQ-605.
Chinese units were more powerful: frigates Nanchong (065 class), Xiangtan (053H1 class) and Yingtan (053K class).
The conflict included hand-to-hand clashes between marines over contested flags on the reefs, resulting in the naval fight with overwhelming Chinese superiority.
Frigate Nanchong shelled and sunk HQ-604, a couple of hours later Xiangtan sunk the HQ-605.
Finally frigate Yingtan focused her fire on the landing ship HQ-505, that retreated after suffering damages even if Vietnamese sources state the ship was intentionally grounded to prevent a Chinese landing. After the battle, Vietnamese tried to recover HQ-505 but she sunk before reaching the port.
Details of the battle are disputed todays. Vietnamese claims that many of their victims (64 killed) occurred when Chinese warships strafed the marines on the reef. Chinese reported just one wounded. As consequence of this engagement, China took control of the reef.
22 January 1996
Philippines patrol boat PG381 Dioscoro Papa claimed an engagement with three Chinese type021 missile boats. According the Philippine’s claim, all ships pulled back after exhausting ammunition, but it is unclear if the whole episode was inflated by the local press propaganda, given there is no mention of actual damage or casualties. Philippines sources made an absurd allegation of capturing another “type021” during a subsequent clash on 10 February. The very same Philippines videos actually show a completely different rusty trawler of civilian nature, thus completely disproving the claim.
8 January 2005
Another unclear incident occurred when Chinese Coast Guard ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, close Hainan Island claimed to have clashed with pirates. Vietnamese sources contested the claim and describe it an attack against two fishing boats: one boat detained and another boat escaped with damage, overall the incident resulted in 9 Vietnamese dead and 8 detained. To this day, the incident remains poorly documented, with lack of neutral assessment, Chinese stating the captured men were all pirates armed with automatic weapons, while Vietnamese sources claimed they were fishing boats. Vietnamese authorities did not released a strong protest as for other incidents (See South Chinese Sea conflict) raising some suspects of correctness in the Chinese claim: it is worth to note also that in the between 2000 to 2020, Chinese Coast Guard regularly detained many more Vietnamese fishing boats, thus making the 2005’s incident a different case.
ANTI-PIRACY OPERATIONS IN SOMALIA
20 November 2010
Chinese sources indicate the operation of PLAN frigate Xuzhou (type 054A) as the first effective one in anti-piracy, when the warship secured the Chinese merchant Tai An Kou (14184 GRT). However, American sources contested that ship was technically already liberated by their own action: American military transport USNS Lewis and Clark opened fire against a pirate dhow and two skiffs, pirates returned fire but escaped. American destroyer USS Winston Churchill also approached the merchant and an helicopter offered assistance before the arrival of the Chinese frigate that boarded the merchant.
9 April 2017
Chinese frigate Yulin intercepted the Tuvalese-flagged bulk-carrier OS-35 (35362 GRT) previously seized by Somal pirates: a squad of 16 soldiers boarded the ship to liberate the crewmembers. 3 pirated captured, 2 escaped.
15 April 2017
Chinese frigate Hengyang intercepted the Panamas taker Alheera (6519 GRT) previously seized by Somaly pirates: the ship was boarded and liberated, 2 pirates killed, 1 wounded and 6 escaped.
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