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Two WWII submarine wrecks have disappeared!

Two Dutch submarine wrecks from World War II have disappeared from the seabed off Malaysia. Both vessels were the final resting place of 79 sailors. This is not the first time that historic wrecks have disappeared in this part of the world. Due to the large amount of metal they are tempting prey for underwater
Published: July 9, 2019 - 16:03
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:23
Two WWII submarine wrecks have disappeared!

Two Dutch submarine wrecks from World War II have disappeared from the seabed off Malaysia. Both vessels were the final resting place of 79 sailors. This is not the first time that historic wrecks have disappeared in this part of the world. Due to the large amount of metal they are tempting prey for underwater thieves, who are a real plague in Asia.

The sunken submarines HNLMS K XVII and HNLMS O 16 fell prey to criminals. After the wreck site was examined by scientists, only a few remnants of O 16 were found and only the outline of the hull on the bottom of HNLMS K XVII. Both vessels described sank in the South China Sea after running into mines, in December 1941.

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These and other similar wrecks are protected under international treaties, but as we can see in practice, all this protection is one big fiction. After all, this is not the first and, unfortunately, certainly not the last case of underwater thieves cutting up a historic wreck and extracting it from the sea bed piece by piece, and then selling it as a raw material.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”This is very sad news. It is shocking for all the relatives, but at the same time it does not surprise me at all. As a minister, I had to announce that three other warships had disappeared from Indonesian waters. At that time there were already signs of tampering with the wreck of O 16.” – said Jet Bussemaker, former Dutch minister [/blockquote].

For wreckers it is a very profitable business. One wreck, even with poor quality steel, can bring a profit of £1 million. And that’s not all, there are also many other metals used as elements of the ship or a mass of copper cables. For thieves the game is worth the candle and it is not likely that the whole business will suddenly be stopped.

In recent years there have also been reports of the remains of sailors who died on British and Dutch warships in the Java Sea. Skeletal fragments were said to have been thrown into an anonymous mass grave, by people clearing up pieces of wreckage brought ashore. It was claimed that those who were employed to cut up the ships on Indonesian soil found skulls, jaws, feet and hand bones, hips and ribs, among other things, during their work.

Source: theguardian.com
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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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