News Story

NEWS STORY : Reports of Chinese Registered Vessel Looting British World War Two Wrecks


The Government has condemned news that indicates that a Chinese-registered vessel has been detained by Malaysia on suspicion of looting two British World War Two shipwrecks. The vessel, described as a bulk carrier or barge carrier, was found to be illegally anchored at the site of the wrecks without any permission to be at the protected sites. The Malaysian maritime agency discovered a cannon shell believed to be from World War II on the ship and is investigating its involvement in the looting.

The illegal salvage operation has caused distress and concern among the Royal Navy, as valuable scrap steel, aluminium and brass fittings were reportedly being removed from the wrecks which are treated as war graves. The wrecks in question are those of the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse which were both sunk by Japanese military aircraft on 10 December 1941 with the loss of 840 allied lives.

The Chinese vessel’s crew is being questioned by Malaysian authorities and the investigation into the looting of these British wrecks in the South China Sea is ongoing. Rumours of damage being done to the ships has been an ongoing problem for the authorities, with reports in 2014 that scrap metal dealers were targetting the ships.