Huan T'ai composite cruiser

The Huan T'ai was the third of a series of light cruisers built in China for the Chinese Nanyang fleet, and remained in service for fifteen years before lost in a collision with the liner Empress of India.

The three Chinese-built cruisers were all of composite construction, with iron frames ordered from Germany and a wooden hull. They had a single funnel and could make 15kts under steam when first built. By the time they were completed composite construction ships was already obsolete, and the Chinese northern (Peiyang) fleet had already received one protected cruiser, the Tsi Yuen. Two similar cruisers were built in Germany, with steel hulls (Nan Ch'en and Nan Shui), so were a little less vulnerable.

The Kai Chi had been armed with Krupp guns. The Huan T'ai and her sister ship Ching Ch'ing used Armstrong breach-loading guns instead, replacing the two 8in guns of the Kai Chi with three 7in guns. Two of the 7in guns were carried in sponsons mounted just in front of the funnel and the third was on the poop deck. They also carried four 4.7in BL guns on the broadside, two in aft sponsons and one in the bow, and two 14in Whitehead torpedo tubes, carried amidships.

The Huan T'ai was completed in 1887 and joined the Nanyang fleet.

In the aftermath of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 the Huan T'ai had her 7in guns replaced with two 6in quick firing guns in the sponsons and one 4.7in quick firing gun on the poop deck.

After the war China lost Port Arthur, but international pressure meant that Japan soon had to hand her back. The Huan T'ai was part of a squadron from the Nanyang fleet that briefly restored the Chinese presence in her northern water, before further international pressure forced her to surrender Port Arthur to Russian and Wei-Hai-Wei to Britain.

On the night of 17 August 1902 the Huan T'ai was on her way to Hong Kong when she altered course to avoid a junk. At the same time the liner Empress of India (5,905t, 16kts) was passing. The heavier liner sliced into the aging cruiser at 14 knots, and early on 18 August the Huan T'ai sank, taking many of her crew with her.


Huang Tai



Top Speed






Armament as built

Three 7in Armstrong BL guns
Seven 40pdr BL gns
Two torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

12 January 1884


November 1886


30 August 1887

Lost in collision

17 August 1903

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 July 2013), Huan T'ai composite cruiser ,

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