Stranded ship becomes an Internet sensation

Zhang Long
A cargo ship blown onto mudflats near the Chongming Islands has become a popular attraction for hundreds of visitors a day taking photographs and posting them online.
Zhang Long

A stranded vessel near the coastline of Changxing Island's Panyuan Road on Chongming Island has suddenly gained online popularity, attracting netizens to watch and take photos. It's a trending topic on social media, becoming a quick "photo spot."

Stranded ship becomes an Internet sensation

A visitor takes a photo of stranded ship Hongteng 68.

Last September, Panamanian cargo ship Blueways also became an online sensation in the Weihai sea area in Shandong Province.

The appearance of the stranded ship in Shanghai was remarkably similar to the Blueways, which also gained popularity and attention online.

Stranded ship becomes an Internet sensation

Cargo ship Blueways stranded in the Weihai Sea in Shandong Province last September.

Residents living near Panyuan Road said that during weekends or any day with good weather, surrounding roads would be filled with cars, with many people coming from the city specifically to take photos and selfies.

Initially, visitors were relatively civil, just taking photos from the roadside, but over time, some sought more unique angles and better shots, resulting in unauthorized climbing onto the stranded vessel.

Stranded ship becomes an Internet sensation

A photograph of people on the bow of the ship.

Aerial photos reveal the ship's name "Hongteng 68" on its hull.

According to the Chongming Maritime Bureau, "Hongteng 68" is a cargo ship registered in Zhoushan, with a total tonnage of 2453, a length of 87 meters, and a width of 13.8 meters. It was washed ashore last October due to a typhoon, and efforts were made to urge the ship's owner to remove it from the area.

Maritime authorities said they are still dealing with the situation. Netizens continue to capture and share images of the ship online, further increasing its popularity.

Stranded ship becomes an Internet sensation
Xinwen Fang

People set off fireworks towards the ship.

A search on social platforms using keywords such as "Changxing Island abandoned ship" or "Shanghai's Blueways" will yield numerous posts with photos and notes from visitors.

One visitor taking photos of the ship stated: "We were walking our dog nearby when we saw it on Douyin (China's TikTok). Some people even posted pictures from onboard."

Most online posts show users posing from a distance with the ship in the background. However, some individuals were climbing onto the ship, capturing images of the ship's interior.

Some even went as far as lighting bonfires amid the surrounding overgrown vegetation and setting off fireworks towards the ship, disregarding potential fire safety hazards.

There are also people setting up coffee stalls and others attempting to climb over flood prevention barriers. However, they were all persuaded to leave by patrolling personnel.

Stranded ship becomes an Internet sensation

Visitors gather at the ship for photos.

Stranded ship becomes an Internet sensation

A mobile coffee shop was set up close to the stranded ship.

The coastline of Panyuan Road has not been developed as a tourist attraction. Those wishing to get a close-up photo with the stranded ship have to either climb over the flood embankment, risking high tide, and traversing a large area of grassy mudflats, or enter through a factory and follow a small path to approach the ship, despite warning signs at the path entrance prohibiting entry.

However, these obstacles did not deter eager visitors. On the busiest days, there are two to three hundred people coming to take photos, even with protective barriers set up by the seawall management office.

The Chongming Maritime Bureau said there are plans to tow the ship away on March 11.

Yang Long, captain of the Changxing Marine Patrol Law Enforcement Brigade, said: "The next spring tide is around March 11 to 13. The ship owner was requested to cooperate to take measures, including removing some mud nearby to facilitate later towing.

Stranded ship becomes an Internet sensation

Whether in Shandong or Shanghai, why do "stranded ships" go viral online?

Yi Xiaoting, a deputy dean of Shanghai Open University, said ships symbolize the exploration of life's journey psychologically. Contemporary people's demand for tourist attractions is no longer satisfied with scenic photography but desires exploration.

A ship stranded on a mudflat with no one onboard creates a sense of curiosity about the unknown, prompting people to explore by boarding.

"After seeing the photos, I also feel a sense of desolate beauty, especially the grand ship. Accidents during its voyage sometimes reflect our contemplation of life," Yi said.

"Currently, tourist attractions in the culture and tourism industry have a characteristic. Previous tourism was about viewing scenery, but now it's more about storytelling. Places like Huanghe Road and Wukang Road all have layered stories," she added.

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