An unauthorized salvage operation from China is currently pillaging two British World War II warship wrecks off the coast of Malaysia, extracting valuable scrap materials such as steel, aluminum, and brass fittings. The Royal Navy has expressed concern over this activity, as reported by USNI News.
Local press reports state that the vessel Chuan Hong 68 is employing a large dredging crane to extract scrap from the wrecks of the battleship HMS Prince of Wales (52) and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse.
These warships were sunk on December 10, 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, by Japanese bombers, resulting in the loss of 840 sailors, USNI reported.
Hazz Zain, a professional diver, reported the illegal commercial operation to local authorities after fishermen in the area spotted the dredger near the wreck sites, according to the New Straits Times.
This illegal salvage operation highlights the vulnerability of historic heritage sites and the risk of looting war graves.
In response to the incident, Dominic Tweddle, the director general of the Museum of the Royal Navy, released a statement on Tuesday emphasizing the need for a management strategy to protect and commemorate these sunken naval vessels.
Tweddle suggested the possibility of targeted retrieval of objects and emphasized the importance of adequately resourcing initiatives such as the existing Royal Navy loss list, which could serve as a vital tool to understand, research, and manage over 5,000 wrecks before they are lost forever.
Written by staff