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Malaysia Holds China Ship Accused of Looting WW2 Warships

Bulk carrier has been accused of ‘grave robbing’ by British press, after allegedly scavenging from warships sunk during World War II

China ship linked to illegal salvage of British WW2 wrecks (Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency).


Maritime officials in Malaysia said on Monday that munitions believed to be from World War II have been found on a China-registered bulk carrier.

The vessel was detained at the weekend for anchoring in its waters without permission, they said.

The discovery comes amid reports this month that scavengers have targeted two British World War II wrecks off the coast of Malaysia.

The HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse – were sunk by Japanese torpedoes in 1941, just three days after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.


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Following reports of the illegal salvage activity, Britain’s National Museum of the Royal Navy said last week it was “distressed and concerned at the apparent vandalism for personal profit” of the two wrecks.

The defence ministry condemned “desecration” of maritime military graves, the BBC said on Saturday.

A ship registered in Fuzhou, China, and carrying 32 crew members failed to present anchoring permits during a routine inspection in waters off Malaysia’s southern Johor state on Sunday, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said.

The authorities found scrap metal and cannon shells on the ship upon further checks.

The shells could be linked to a separate seizure by police at a Johor jetty last week of multiple unexploded World War II-era artillery.

The authorities believe those may have been scavenged from the HMS Prince of Wales, the MMEA said, adding it was working with Malaysia’s National Heritage Department and other agencies to identify the ammunition found.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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