Possible Wreckage of Mongol Invasion Ship Found Off Kyushu; ‘Bulkhead,’ Chinese Pottery May Date from 13th Century

Courtesy of Matsuura board of education
A research team member checks wooden material found on the seabed off Nagasaki Prefecture.

NAGASAKI — Wooden structures believed to be part of a ship from a fleet sent by the Mongol Empire to invade Japan in the 13th century have been found off Takashima Island in Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture, the city’s board of education has announced.

The board of education, which is conducting an excavation survey at the undersea site, believes it would be the third such wreck to be located.

The board’s research team found wooden materials that are believed to be parts of a bulkhead and outer planking. A bulkhead that divides the interior of a ship is one characteristic of a Mongol Empire ship.

A Chinese jar and a dish, believed to have been made in the late 13th to early 14th centuries, were also excavated from near the bulkhead part.

Due to the short survey period, the overall structure and size of the hull could not be determined, and the uncovered wreckage was reburied with sand and sheeting. The board hopes to conduct another survey as early as next fiscal year.

It is said that about 4,400 Mongol ships were destroyed in a storm during the second attack on the Kyushu region in 1281.

In modern times, two of the ships have been found so far — one estimated to be about 27 meters long was found in 2011, and another with an estimated length of 20 meters was discovered in 2015. The latest discovery was made on the seafloor at a depth of about 18 meters near where the second ship was found.