The legendary Chinese Treasure Fleet was commanded by Zheng He. It sailed the waters of southern Asia in the early 15th century.
Zheng He and the Chinese Treasure Fleet
In the 15th century, the Ming Dynasty launched the fabled Treasure Fleet – hundreds of vessels – some more than 400 feet long. Over the course of about 30 years, the fleet would sail to Vietnam, Siam, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, the Spice Islands, Ceylon, India, Arabia and east Africa. It is an amazing tale – all made possible by Zheng He – a muslim eunuch who was critical to the success of Ming Dynasty.
Map courtesy of Wikipedia.
The two best books on Zheng He and the Treasure Fleet that I found (in English) were Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1433 by Edward L. Dreyer and When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433 by Louise Levathes. Both offer in-depth looks at our subject matter.