Chinese Salvage Ship Caught Looting British WWII Shipwrecks
A Chinese salvage ship has been caught looting British World War II shipwrecks near the Malaysian coast.
The vessel, a dredger named Chuan Hong 68, was seen lurking near the shipwrecks of the Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and cruiser HMS Repulse, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Imperial Japanese forces destroyed both ships in December 1941, resulting in the loss of 842 British sailors — a significant setback for the Royal Navy in the Far East.
Chuan Hong 68’s activities were first noticed by Malaysian media and “open-source intelligence analysts” last week, News.com.au reported.
- Chuan Hong 68 was using a large dredging crane to lift metal scraps from the shipwrecks.
- HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were built with high-quality steel, according to reports. As such, the wrecks are a lucrative source of scraps that can be smelted and reused.
- Police discovered live ammunition, British anti-aircraft cannons, an anchor and pieces of a ship’s hull at a jetty in Malaysia.
- Chuan Hong 68’s crew has a reputation for being a group of “illegal scavengers,” the Mail reported.
- The crew reportedly consists of well-paid Chinese, Nepalese, Malaysian and Bangladeshi nationals.
- Chuan Hong 68 has engaged in illegal scavenging of World War II shipwrecks off the coasts of Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam and is wanted by authorities in Indonesia.
Adm. Lord Alan West, former head of the Royal Navy, called the scavenging operation an “absolute disgrace,” according to the Mail.
“These are burial sites with all the bodies still there. These Chinese wreckers or scrap metal men don’t give a damn about this,” he said.
“It’s a loathsome thing to do. It’s very distressing for the families and next of kin of those sailors killed on HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales.”
The Western Journal reports that Chuan Hong 68 has been caught red-handed stripping Allied WWII graves for scrap. This is a despicable act that shows no respect for the brave soldiers who lost their lives in service to their country. It is important that authorities take action to stop this illegal salvaging and protect these war graves from further desecration.
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