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  1. #1 Two Dutch Shipwrecks From WWII Just Vanished Near Malaysia 
    Power CUer SVPete's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
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    Two Dutch Shipwrecks From WWII Just Vanished Near Malaysia

    SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF Malaysia, an underwater graveyard just lost two of its buried. The Dutch submarines HNLMS O 16 and HNLMS K XVII, sunk in December 1941 by Japanese mines, have suddenly disappeared from the South China Sea, according to The Guardian.

    How could a pair steel warships, each over 240 feet long, up and vanish? It’s actually not much of a mystery. In recent years, as many as 40 of the sunken Allied warships littering the waters around Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia have been partially or completely looted by salvage divers, according to a 2017 special report in The Guardian. HNLMS O 16 and HNLMS K XVII are likely the latest victims in this shipwreck-wrecking craze.

    Members of a Dutch and Malaysian expedition realized the ships had gone missing while patrolling the waters near the wreck site. When they got to the spot, they found only sparse remains of the O 16, and just a ghostly outline of the K XVII’s hull in the seabed.

    While war wrecks are legally protected under international treaties—such as the one signed by the Netherlands and Malaysia in March—they’re very hard to guard in practice. Many wrecks are located miles off the coast and hundreds of feet below the surface. But for looters, sunken ships are some of the most lucrative objects imaginable. One salvaged warship made of poor-quality steel can net around $1.3 million, according to the Guardian report.
    From the Guardian article linked in the article above,

    Experts said grave diggers might be looking for even more precious treasures – steel plating made before the nuclear testing era, which filled the atmosphere with radiation. These submerged ships are one of the last sources of “low background steel”, virtually radiation-free and vital for some scientific and medical equipment.
    Warships would not be made of "poor quality" steel. They would be a mix of structural steel - GP but good quality - and armor plate steel. But some merchant ships - which would be among the wrecks - might be of lesser quality steel. So the situation is one of a valuable commodity, “low background steel”, and countries where both the means and will to prevent salvage-piracy are marginal. While most of the wrecks, probably, are from Allies, given the fortunes of war in late 1941 and early 1942 - Dutch, American, British, and Anzac - some Japanese warships and merchant ships are among them as well.
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Zathras's Avatar
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    May 2008
    San Jose, California
    The same thing is happening to the wrecks of both HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse. Both ships were sunk by Japanese Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" and G4M "Betty" land based twin engine bombers. They became the first capital ships sunk solely by naval air power, albeit land based, on the open seas. HMS Prince of Wales lies upside down in 223 feel of water while HMS Repulse lies upside down in 183 feet of water. In October 2014, The Daily Telegraph reported that both Prince of Wales and Repulse were being "extensively damaged" with explosives by scrap-metal dealers.
    Last edited by Zathras; 07-17-2019 at 01:24 AM.
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  3. #3  
    eeeevil Sith Admin SarasotaRepub's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Strange, I would never have expected these
    wrecks to be "looted".
    May the FORCE be with you!
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  4. #4  
    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Warren, MI
    Shipwrecks in the Great Lakes are protected, but it's easier for US/Canadian authorities to protect them then it would be to protect shipwrecks in international waters in the oceans.
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