Disturbing Sacred Ground: Chinese Salvage Ship Caught Stealing Priceless WWII Treasures From These British Shipwrecks But It Doesn't Stop There

By Vickie Ferguson | Sunday, 28 May 2023 12:00
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Near the Malaysian coast, Chuan Hong 68, a Chinese salvage ship, has been caught with its hooks in the cookie jar looting two British shipwrecks that served during World War II.

According to the Gateway Pundit, the Royal Navy battleship H.M.S. Prince of Wales and cruiser H.M.S. Repulse were destroyed in December 1941 by Imperial Japanese forces. The destroyed ships cost the lives of 840 British soldiers. A Royal Navy National Museum statement notes that both shipwrecks are designated official war graves.

Beijing consistently ignores the zones allocated to Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines because almost the entirety of the South China Sea is claimed by Beijing as sovereign territory. The Daily Mail reported that the crew of Chuan Hong 68 has a reputation for being "illegal scavengers."

A report from News.com.au says the Chinese salvage ship was sighted by Malaysian media and open-source intelligence analysts last week. On Friday, at a jetty in Kota Tinggi, Johor, Royal Malaysian Police uncovered live ammunition, two British 2-inch anti-aircraft cannons, sections of a hull, and a ship's anchor.

According to the U.S. Naval Institute, local reports indicate the salvage ship uses a large dredging crane to lift metal from the shipwrecks.


A source speaking to the New Straits Times said, "They operate mechanically and entirely from the surface of the barge, which is equipped with cranes sporting huge metal claws," and "the claws can plunge more than [200 meters] deep. It chops up the ship and pulls up [100] tonnes of metal in one go." The New Straits Times also reported the scavenger vessel has been looting shipwrecks for around ten years.


Both ships were constructed with high-quality steel, which make the scrap metal a lucrative item for scavengers. According to the Times, the Chinese vessel has illegally scavenged shipwrecks from World War II off the coasts of Cambodia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Indonesian authorities want the vessel's crew.

The Daily Mail reports Adm. Lord Alan West, the former head of the Royal Navy, called the scavenging operation an "absolute disgrace." "These are burial sites with all the bodies still there. These Chinese wreckers or scrap metal men don't give a damn about this." "It's a loathsome thing to do. It's very distressing for the families, and next of kin of those sailors killed on H.M.S. Repulse and H.M.S. Prince of Wales."

News.com.au reports the condition of the British shipwrecks is not known. The Malaysian government's National Heritage Department has received a complaint. So far, no reports have been filed regarding human remains among the scavenged debris.