Famed WWII Shipwrecks Plundered By Grave-Robbing Pirates
The wrecks of four ships that were sunk in the waters off Malaysia and Indonesia have recently been looted for scrap metal, The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported. Several other British shipwrecks in the region have previously been looted, even though the United Nations International Salvaging Convention bans raiding sunken warships.
U.K. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Sunday the government "absolutely condemns" the unauthorized disturbance of any wreck containing human remains, according to Sky News.
"I am very concerned to hear any allegations of incidents of Royal Navy wrecks being plundered in the Far East," Williamson said. "We will work closely with the Indonesian and Malaysian governments to investigate these claims."
The four vessels recently targeted by pirates include HMS Tien Kwang and the HMS Kuala, which were carrying evacuees from Singapore and bound for Java, Indonesia when they were attacked by Japanese bombers in 1942. The ship was sunk about 45 miles southeast of Singapore.
Pirates have also looted the battleship, HMS Prince of Wales, personally used by Winston Churchill before being sunk in a Japanese air attack.