Maritime war graves missing
Very disturbing news was communicated today by the Dutch Minister of Defense. The wrecks of three ships that were lost in the Battle of the Java Sea in 1942, and had been rediscovered in 2002, are no longer present, as detected by a recent diving expedition. The cruisers De Ruyter and Java are completely gone, and so is most of the destroyer Kortenaer. Traces have been found and there’s no doubt as to where the ships were supposed to be.
What exactly happened will need to be investigated, but the obvious and alarming thought is of course, that the graves of the more than 900 men who went down with those ships, were not safe from scrap metal dealers.
That is sad news, Herr Kaleun.
I hope they discover what has happened.
If the wrecks were indeed plundered for scrap metal, such an action would not only be immoral (with regard to the desecration of a war grave), it would also be illegal because under international law – if I’m not mistaken – sunken warships remain the property of the nation they were serving when they sank.
If these are 70 year old underwater wrecks that finally got discovered over a decade ago… how deep were they to not be found in 60 years? Considering the size of the ships, the depth of the wrecks, and the condition of the metal, would a scrapping operation even be plausible or cost effective (obviously immoral, but I’m talking about some loser who only sees $$$ and doesn’t care)… It would still seem to be financially unsound…
Is there another explanation for the wrecks disappearing besides an illegal scrapping operation? We’re not talking about diving down and stealing a dead sailors ring, we’re talking about the disappearance of entire cruisers… that would have to be a pretty massive undertaking I would think.
The Java sea is rather shallow, 150 ft on average. I don’t have any information on the discovery of the wrecks, but considering that the battle was chaotic and the ships drifted for a while between being abandoned by the crew and finally sinking, it stands to reason that locating them posed more of a challenge than actually diving at the spot after they had been found. It’s speculation on my part that an illegal salvage operation would be the cause of the ships’ disappearance, and the Ministry has so far merely pointed out that the matter needs to be investigated. But today’s news confirms that the ships have likely been dismantled with explosives and the fragments removed towards Surabaya.
It’s not unheard of: the famous British battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse have also been targeted:
Note that the second article mentions a Singapore based salvage firm that decided against such an operation, but claimed that it could otherwise have made a 150 million pounds profit.
Searching some more, I found that this despicable practice is not limited to the Far East either:
And the company identified in that operation appears to be…… Dutch.
What if there were secret plans and an alien craft on the cruiser?