Scavengers Trash WWII Java Sea Shipwrecks
The Guardian reported the alarming news in November that three World War II–era British warships and a U.S. submarine that sank in the Java Sea have been desecrated (and in some cases totally removed) by illegal scavengers of scrap metal—criminals evidently devoid of even the remotest sense of history or the graveyard status of a shipwreck. The reaction in the historical community and among veterans’ groups has been one of shock and anger.
Expressing “serious concern” and requesting that the Indonesian government take “appropriate action to protect the sites from any further disturbance,” the UK Ministry of Defence condemned the “unauthorised disturbance of any wreck containing human remains. . . . Many lives were lost during this battle and we would expect that these sites are respected and left undisturbed without the express consent of the United Kingdom. It is British Government policy that our military wrecks are offered appropriate protection and management.”