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Mr_Alex

HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales have fallen victim to Illegal Salvagers

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6074441/British-war-graves-desecrated-Chinese-pirates-plundering-Second-World-War-shipwrecks.html

 

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Desecration of British war graves: Chinese PIRATES plunder 10 shipwrecks carrying remains of UK's Second World War heroes

  • Ten British ships sunk during Second World War and designated as war graves have been plundered for scrap metal by Chinese pirates, the Mail has found
  • Vessels providing afinal resting place for more than 1,000 sailors have been hit
  • Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has demanded an immediate investigation

 

Ten British ships sunk during the Second World War and designated as war graves have been plundered for scrap metal by Chinese pirates, an investigation by The Mail on Sunday has found.

Vessels that provide the final resting place for more than 1,000 sailors have been smashed to pieces and looted by greedy salvagers. Last night Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson demanded an immediate investigation. ‘The UK Government absolutely condemns the unauthorised disturbance of any wreck containing human remains, and always has done,’ he said.

‘A military wreck should remain undisturbed and those who lost their lives on board should be allowed to rest in peace.’

Experts previously said that six British ships had been plundered. Now they have revealed that four more have been targeted, and the figure is likely to rise.

The ten lying off the Malaysian and Indonesian coasts were sunk in late 1941 and 1942. They include HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, whose hulls had for decades served as graves for the 835 men who went down with the two ships. But the callous gangs of scavengers have now looted around half of their 750ft-long structures, with the remains of fallen heroes dredged up with the metal.

Even worse is the fate of the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, which famously confronted the doomed Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate. It went down off Indonesia in 1942 with the loss of 54 sailors, but hardly a trace of her is left on the sea bed.

Hundreds more sailors’ remains are entombed in the wrecks of a further seven British ships lost in the area which have been violated by the pirates.

Promising action, Mr Williamson said: ‘I am very concerned to hear any allegations of incidents of Royal Navy wrecks being plundered in the Far East.

‘We will work closely with the Indonesian and Malaysian governments to investigate these claims.’

The Ministry of Defence says it is working with the Indonesian government to create ‘special protection zones’ around the site where HMS Encounter, Electra and Exeter sank. But it is a race against time. This newspaper’s investigation has found that four wrecks – those of SS Loch Ranza, HMS Tien Kwang, HMS Kuala and HMS Banka – have recently been targeted by scavengers, having previously been ignored. Almost 550 sailors and civilians died with the four ships.

Our investigation has revealed how salvage barges take the plundered metal to scrapyards in Indonesia where it is cut into smaller pieces. The scrap is then shipped to China where it enters the global steel market, creating the prospect of the metal appearing as tins of food on UK shop shelves.

Experts say Second World War vessels are particularly valuable as they were built and sunk before the era of nuclear explosions. As a result, they have absorbed little ‘background radiation’ from the atmosphere, making them suitable for medical equipment.
 

HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were sunk on the same day in December 1941 off the Malaysian coast by Japanese aircraft. The incident, labelled Britain’s Pearl Harbour, was described by Winston Churchill as his worst shock of the war.

Earlier that year, HMS Prince of Wales had played a pivotal role in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck and had ferried Churchill to the US for a secret summit with President Roosevelt, where the pair signed the Atlantic Charter, a document paving the way for the United Nations.

In recent years, the wrecks of Prince of Wales and Repulse, a 750ft-long battlecruiser, have been ripped apart and experts believe at least half of their structures have gone. The news of such desecration has angered veterans. Mr Pink, from Ipswich, was a 19-year-old bandsman when the Repulse sank. He said the screams of his trapped, dying shipmates still ring in his ears as they did then.

‘It is terrible, a diabolical thing to happen. I lost a lot of friends on the Repulse,’ he said. ‘They are desecrating a grave. They were designated as war graves for a reason because hundreds of men died.’

As well as HMS Exeter, other vessels have been heavily plundered.

HMS Encounter, a destroyer which sank in the Java Sea in March 1942 with the loss of eight men, has had 80 per cent of its wreck illegally salvaged, according to expert divers who visited the site in 2016.
 

HMS Banka, a minesweeper which sank off the Malaysian coast in December 1941 with four British officers and 34 Malay crewmen, has also been dredged up completely, according to investigators. Its desecration – and that of HMS Tien Kwang, HMS Kuala and SS Loch Ranza – has only been discovered in the past year. Despite international bans, more than a dozen Chinese-owned barges fitted with cranes have been involved in salvaging wrecks in the region.

Some switch off their transponders to avoid detection on shipping radar. They then drop a 50-ton axe-shaped anchor on the sunken ship to smash its structure before deploying long cranes to scoop up the smashed metal. Australian diving expert Dr Andrew Fock, who has led investigations of wrecks on the relatively shallow and accessible Java Sea bed, said the metal haul from each ship can fetch more than £1million.

Indonesia estimates there are 479 sunken ships off its coast alone. Fujian Jiada has supplied five of the eight salvage barges found to be active in the Java Sea in recent years. The vessels have sailed under the Chinese flag and also under those of Cambodia and Mongolia. One of them is the Hai Wei Gong 889, a crane ship which has sailed with a different name and under Chinese and Cambodian flags.

Australian and Indonesian experts accused the Hai Wei Gong of looting HMS Banka in 2014 and the ship was impounded by the Malaysian navy for plundering Dutch and Japanese wrecks off their coast in the same year. Malaysian investigators also accused its crew of looting HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse, which lay nearby.

 

Fujian Jiada last night denied any role in illegal salvaging, dismissing claims in the international media as ‘malicious false gossip’. A spokesman said: ‘We are only an export agent company. In this case, our businesses about the vessels [barges] were finished while [sic] the vessels left China.’

Barges owned by other Chinese companies have also been implicated, but not all salvaging companies are Chinese-owned.

Three years ago, the Malaysian navy captured a barge with 12 Vietnamese crew plundering the Prince of Wales and Repulse.

Precious items from British warships have been found as far afield as Australia. In 2014, the Australian authorities seized a Morse telephone stolen from Repulse, which was about to be auctioned. The phone was then handed back to the British High Commission.

Dr Fock, who led a team that recorded the wrecks of Dutch, British and Australian wrecks in 2016, said the ‘industrial scale’ looting had only recently become apparent.

He said: ‘Just imagine if a Chinese company went into France and began digging up a cemetery of the war dead. There would be anger and outrage. But this is what is happening now, but no one is saying anything about it.’

Asked about work to create ‘special protection zones’, Royal Marines Colonel Jaimie Roylance – based at the British Embassy in Jakarta – said: ‘We hope to establish appropriate zones by the end of this year.’

 



 

 

 

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Joining a group of Dutch and other ABDA ships in their sad and illegal fate.

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1 minute ago, Lert said:

Joining a group of Dutch and other ABDA ships in their sad and illegal fate.

Thats why I am hoping that Repulse in some way or form will make it to WOWS possibly as a T6 prem Battlecruiser at the very least

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Fujian Jiada last night denied any role in illegal salvaging, dismissing claims in the international media as ‘malicious false gossip’. A spokesman said: ‘We are only an export agent company. In this case, our businesses about the vessels [barges] were finished while [sic] the vessels left China.’

Such a nice and tidy way to say they are dealing with illegal scavengers dredging the remains of sailors but good luck finding a connection :Smile-angry:. Things like graves, especially ones regarding war casualties are meant to be universally respected, this just shows how low humans will stoop for profit. 

Edited by warheart1992

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So sad to hear about this kind of thing, in my opinion such ships should be left in peace or raised only by permission of their nation and the human remains respectfully transferred to on land memorial, with full military honors and reverence observed. ( we have discussed on forum  before if it would be right for Japan to raise Yamato and Musashi)

Under no circumstances should wrecks be stripped by looters! Only the nation that owned the ship, and where the family and friends live or lived in which those heroic sailors sacrifed for, should have the right to touch or allow access to wargraves.

Edited by Admiral_Thrawn_1

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There really is no such thing as international law, just agreements between nations that are only enforced if said nations are powerful enough to enforce them. If a country wants its desires enforced then it must have the might on site to enforce them. Most of the Egyptian pharaoh's tombs were looted within a hundred years of their being sealed. If you wish to protect something then you have to either guard it where it lies or move it to where it can be guarded. Merely requesting or demanding that your wishes be respected is not going to make it so.  

Edited by Snargfargle
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Definitely within poor taste to those who died during the conflict. 

However, I recall that the Asians really didn't feel any love for the Europeans, so they don't regard these ships as sacred.  That being said, there are a few "war grave" vessels that have been cut up or are being considered for cutting up due to various reasons.

Some that were cut up include a few of the Dunkirk wrecks, which were sunk in heavily traveled zones - something that could make them dangerous, and the Tirpitz, who was used as extra metal supplies and some souvenirs by the Norwegians.

I remember hearing that the German cruiser Blucher, which was sunk in Drøbak Sound was being considered for some cutting because she's an environmental hazard for the area.

 

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2 hours ago, warheart1992 said:

Such a nice and tidy way to say they are dealing with illegal scavengers dredging the remains of sailors but good luck finding a connection :Smile-angry:. Things like graves, especially ones regarding war casualties are meant to be universally respected, this just shows how low humans will stoop for profit. 

To be fair, Europeans do this as well.  The Tirpitz was salvaged by the Norwegians and Germans for her background steel, which was valuable for medical equipment.

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This is why when you find a wreck, you should say nothing

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1 hour ago, Battlecruiser_Yavuz said:

To be fair, Europeans do this as well.  The Tirpitz was salvaged by the Norwegians and Germans for her background steel, which was valuable for medical equipment.

Who said Europeans don't want to profit as well  :Smile_hiding:. The act still feels distasteful. I also would like to believe the salvaging operation of the Tirpitz was done with at least some respect for the fallen, whereas now I believe they just throw the remains to the sea.

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Fujian Jiada last night denied any role in illegal salvaging, dismissing claims in the international media as ‘malicious false gossip’. A spokesman said: ‘We are only an export agent company. In this case, our businesses about the vessels [barges] were finished while [sic] the vessels left China.’

 

5 hours ago, warheart1992 said:

Such a nice and tidy way to say they are dealing with illegal scavengers dredging the remains of sailors but good luck finding a connection :Smile-angry:. Things like graves, especially ones regarding war casualties are meant to be universally respected, this just shows how low humans will stoop for profit. 

Spoken like the mobster he probably is.

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38 minutes ago, warheart1992 said:

Who said Europeans don't want to profit as well  :Smile_hiding:. The act still feels distasteful. I also would like to believe the salvaging operation of the Tirpitz was done with at least some respect for the fallen, whereas now I believe they just throw the remains to the sea.

I’m sure some respect was taken...hopefully.

I think the wreck is mostly gone though while bits of it remain.  You can buy knives made from Tirpitz steel.

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