Mystery over WW2 shipwrecks vanished from Java Sea bed

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by CL1, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  2. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    British ships are also damaged or missing, the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, destroyers HMS Encounter, and HMS Electra. Also Submarine USS Perch of US Navy

    CL1 likes this.
  3. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Hmmm given the amount of satellite surveillance in the area someone must have seen the salvage operations taking place
  4. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    When you think how much work goes into diving/ salvaging on one ship, then when it involves three or possibly more just 60 miles offshore it seems unbelievable that no one knew about it.
  5. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    I agree and I can't understand why the scours caused by the wrecks are still there, I would have expected them to fill quite quickly
  6. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    This Guardian article shows some of the 3D images of the seabed where Exeter & Electra were...
    Exeter Wreck

    It has been happening for a very long time. I believe the screws/propellers from HMS Repulse & Prince of Wales have gone and much closer to home the wrecks of HMS Cressy, Aboukir Bay & Hogue (the 'Live Bait' Squadron) have been salvaged like this ever since the 1920's up to the current day (I believe the Government of the day actually sold the salvage rights for those 3 ships to a German company in the 1920's and currently it is a Dutch company that is plundering the wrecks.) If the MoD turns a blind eye to the events in waters close to home what hope is there for wrecks much further afield, especially as they have no resources to deal with it?

    From the Guardian article:
    Andy Brockman, an archaeologist and researcher in maritime crime, said the UK government had not done enough to stop undersea looting.
    “My feeling is that the Ministry of Defence files the issue of taking active steps to protect historic Royal Navy wrecks under the heading of too difficult and too expensive,” he said.

    Probably sums up the MoD attitude quite well.

    I recall an article in an issue of Britain At War last year (can't remember what one unfortunately) that covered this issue and they had a photo of a salvage ship underway in Indonesian waters with a load of rusted metal on its deck that they believed came from a Dutch submarine and the MoD didn't or wouldn't provide a comment on reports on the British wrecks being plundered.
  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  8. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Moved posts #7 and #8 to existing thread on same topic.
  10. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Unpleasant though it is, I'm struggling to get excited over it. Even if there was something we could do, we wouldn't do it. Can't send a gunboat - it's probably tied up in Portsmouth with a revolutionary engine that doesn't revolve.
    The MoD has clearly waited until the wrecks are gone before loudly wringing its hands. Sad to say but that's probably the least embarrassing option.
    Margaret Ann likes this.
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I did see a statement from the MOD not declaring the wrecks are war graves but that those missing are remembered on memorials in the UK.

    What is not clear is if in the past, the British or Dutch governments have declared the wrecks to be war graves to protect them from the scrap merchants of the sea.The other point is that Indonesia has not had an exact political stability in the postwar years and foreign governments do not have much of a writ in these areas and may rely on agreements which the Indonesian government has found hard to uphold over the years.
  12. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    If memory serves, it was Vietnamese scrappers who have been chipping away at Prince of Wales off Malaysia, so it's not entirely an Indonesian problem.
  13. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    The relevant legislation is the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 which requires the relevant vessels or sites to be designated. The current UK list of designated vessels and sites in contained in The Protection of Military Remains Act (Designation of Vessels and Controlled Sites) Order 2012 - the vessels HMS Exeter, Electra and Encounter are not included..
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  14. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    In considering these sensitive matters we must also remember that recovering scrap metal etc is also related to culture, criminality, education etc and not just 'Law'. Every nation has its share of go-getters and scumbags who have no interest in 'Law'. We only have to look to our own papers to find news of the latest set of medals burgled etc: one in our local paper today. What I'm trying to say is that having a 'Law' etc is good but it still has to be enforced...and therein lies the problem.
  15. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Certainly both sites are subject to the scrap metal entrepreneurs but I was referring to those vessels sunk in the Battle of the Java Sea.

    The POW and the Repulse were sunk in the South China Sea,a sea which is increasingly being claimed by China and are prominent in the area creating island bases from rock outcrops.It seems that China is ignoring protests of countries who righfully can claim the relevant sea areas, based on international law.

    As far as these two wrecks are concerned they lie in relatively shallow waters and are somewhat easy to pillage.
  16. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    On the subject of satellite surveillance...has anyone thought to look at GoogleEarth??? An operation THIS size would have taken months, if not years; the salvage barges concerned should show up on GoogleEarth for five or more years after they have departed LMAO
  17. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

  18. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

  19. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  20. Puttenham

    Puttenham Well-Known Member

    The Pyramids were plundered, nothing new.

    Humans will take anything of value, easy to get at or not. The Titanic is miles down and has also been picked over. Sad.


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