Chinese gunboat Minquan
|Out of service:||30 November 1949|
|Fate:||captured by Chinese communists in Chinese Civil War|
|Acquired:||30 November 1949|
|Struck:||scrapped in 1980s|
|Fate:||retired in 1982 as a museum ship|
|Displacement:||464 long tons (471 t)|
|Length:||169 ft (52 m)|
|Beam:||26 ft (7.9 m)|
|Draught:||7 ft (2.1 m)|
|Propulsion:||2,600 hp (1,900 kW) from 2 coal-burning steam turbines|
|Speed:||17 knots (20 mph; 31 km/h)|
|Complement:||98 sailors + 17 officers|
Chinese gunboat Minquan (民权) is a gunboat with more than half a century of service life in China, both in the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) and the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The gunboat is named after Minquan County, which in turn, is named after Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s the Principle of Minquan.
Constructed by Jiangnan Shipyard at the cost of 1.2 million Chinese dollars, the gunboat was completed in May 1930 and entered service with ROCN in the same year. The gunboat was originally armed with a 4.7” (120 mm), a 3” (76 mm), a 2.25” (57 mm) and two Oerlikon 20 mm guns. The original 88 mm gun was subsequently replaced by a 100 mm gun. Under the command of Commander Liu Huanqian (刘焕乾), Minquan was one of the few ROCN naval ships that managed to escape Japanese aerial and naval attacks during World War II. At the end of the Chinese Civil War, Minquan and six other gunboats of ROCN Riverine Defense Fleet (RDF) were stuck in Chongqing and there was no escape because the Chinese communist forces had control of the mid and lower stretch of the Yangtze. Soon, two gunboats sailed downstream and defected to the enemy. Not wanting the remaining five boats to be destroyed, the commander of the ROCN RDF Rear Admiral Ye Yuhe (叶裕和) led the remnant of the defected force to the enemy on November 30, 1949.
PLAN renamed the boat to Yangtze, and the armament was subsequently changed to four 40 mm and four 20 mm guns. The gunboat remained in PLAN's service until 1982 when it finally retired. The importance of Yangtze in the history of PLAN is apparent when one considers that in February 1952, Mao Zedong was on board for four days and three nights inspecting PLAN. While on board the Yangtze, Mao wrote down the phrase: ”In order to resist imperialists’ aggression, we must establish a strong navy”, which subsequently became the motto for the establishment of PLAN. For this reason, the gunboat was temporarily kept as a museum ship in the 1980s after its retirement in 1982. However, in the era of Chinese economic reform, this was deemed as a form of cult of personality and the museum ship was subsequently scrapped.