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A classic boat from the 15th century

APRIL 11 -- A boatbuilder in Mumbai, India, is constructing one of the world’s largest wooden boats — a 162-foot replica of a 15th-century Chinese junk boat.

Classicraft Marine Works is building the massive replica, commissioned by a German who apparently plans to use the vessel for a regional charter business, a news report says. The boat is expected to cost about $13.3 million.

“I have done a lot of research into the construction of the junks used by the Chinese for long-distance voyages, and this junk will be as original as possible, with the addition of twin Volvo D16 diesel engines, three generator sets and air-condition[ed] cabins,” the owner of Classicraft Marine Works says in the report.

“To build this boat is the fulfillment of a vision I have had for a long time,” the owner continues.

Junks were originally developed during the Han Dynasty (220 BC to 200 AD) and made famous during the 1400s for Chinese admiral Zheng He’s expeditions in the Indian Ocean. Classicraft Marine Works is building the replica in New Orleans, the news report says. It is expected to be completed in 2008.

Jason Fell