Chinese medieval ship found off Malindi coast

By Paul Gitau

Archeologists from China and Kenya say they have discovered a sunken Chinese ship dating to the middle ages, off the Kenyan coast in Malindi.

The experts announced in Malindi on December 26 that following three years of underwater research, they come across the vessel 14 nautical miles off Ngomeni village in Magarini district, Kilifi County.

And yesterday, a Kenyan archeologist Ceasar Bita predicted that it could take between one and three years to study and bring the vessel to the surface from the seabed.

“It is a very expensive venture to bring it to the surface,” said Bita who disclosed that due to the huge financial implications and lack of local expertise in underwater archeology were the main challenges.

According to Bita, one of the very few Kenyan archeologists trained in underwater archeology, experts believe the vessel measures about 40 metres wide. Experts believe it was a Chinese vessel because Chinese porcelain from the middle ages had been recovered from it.

If confirmed, it will be the second Chinese ship to be discovered off the Kenyan Coast following a 2011 similar discovery off the Lamu Coast. The 2011 discovery involved a Chinese wreckage dated to the Ming Dynasty in the 15th century.

The discoveries confirm early Chinese travel and settlement on the Kenyan coast.

Culture, Sports and the Arts Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, who was present when the discovery was announced in Malindi, said his ministry will gazette it as a monument.

Wario made the remarks during a press conference held at Karibuni Villas in Magarini District during the just ended underwater archeology project christened Sino-Kenya Underwater Archeology Project. The project took three years.