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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Chinese Vessel Suspect in WWII British Warship Wreck Looting

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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — Malaysia’s maritime agency announced on Monday that it had discovered a cannon shell thought to date from World War II on a Chinese-registered vessel and was looking into whether the barge carrier had been involved in the plunder of two British cruiser wrecks in the South China Sea.

The HMS Repulse and the HMS Prince of Wales, which were sunk in 1941 by Japanese torpedoes days after the attack on Pearl Harbour, were thought to have been targeted by illegal salvage operations, according to Malaysian media.

The shipwrecks off the coast of central Pahang state have been declared as war cemeteries since a total of 842 sailors drowned there. After noticing a foreign vessel in the vicinity last month, fishermen and divers informed the authorities.

According to the agency, it apprehended the vessel on Sunday for illegally anchoring off southern Johor state and having a Fuzhou, China, registration. 32 crew members, including 21 Chinese, 10 Bangladeshis, and a Malaysian, were listed as being on board.

The National Heritage Department and other officials will collaborate to identify the cannon round, according to the government.

Britain’s National Museum of the Royal Navy last week said it was “distressed and concerned at the apparent vandalism for personal profit.”

The maritime agency said it believed the rusty cannon shell was linked to the police seizure of dozens of unexploded artillery and other relics at a private scrapyard in Johor. The New Straits Times newspaper reported that the ammunitions were believed to be from the warships and that police conducted an on-site controlled explosion of the weapons

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