Wednesday, August 22, 2018



The Royal Navy heavy cruiser HMS Exeter sinking after the Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942.
The Royal Navy heavy cruiser HMS Exeter sinking after the Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942. Photograph: U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

During mid August 2018 it was reported by multiple sources that Chinese illegal salvers had removed items and hull plating from 10 British warships lost in action in World War II. The wrecked hulls were designated war graves under international law. The "pirate" salvers reduced some of the hulls to mere debris lines on the sea floor in violation of international law. The hulls had served as tombs for over 1,000 British sailors who lost their lives in part to free China from a horrific occupation by Imperial Japan. Initial reports indicated that six British hulls had been plundered but subsequent investigation indicate a certainty that an additional four hulls were damaged and the count may not be final yet. 

 The ten wrecks were located off of the Malaysian and Indonesian coasts in 1941 and 1942. Among the damaged wrecks were the remains of the HMS PRINCE OF WALES, and HMS REPULSE for which the British had pretty accurate casualty counts. According to British naval sources 835 sailors were entombed in those two hulls alone. The piratical scavengers damaged half of the ship lengths of the two historic vessels and left evidence that they dredged up human remains along with the targeted metal. 

 Another affected wreck of historic reputation is that of the HMS EXETER which earned eternal fame by confronting the German GRAF SPEE in the battle of the River Plate. The HMS EXETER went down off Indonesia in 1942 entombing 54 of her crew. The "Pirate Scavengers" hardly left a trace of her. 

 There is existing evidence that the "illegal salvers" are Chinese in origin and operate out of Chinese ports. The Chinese are actively engaged in disputing the coastal claims of every nation bordering the south China Sea as the Dragon claims it is a virtual Chinese Lake in flagrant disregard of international law. In order to enforce their claim the Dragon has launched the world's largest coast guard nearly 600 ships. But where were they in terms of suppressing Chinese nationals from violating maritime international law? Hey Dragon, did you decide to respect the sovereignty of your under gunned maritime neighbors just this once, and not enter their territorial waters or exclusive economic zones to police your nationals? Or, may be, this was an official act in defiance of international law, where in the Dragon decided to demonstrate that it can do anything it wants within water bottoms it claims, with out justification,  as its own?

 The United Nations International Salvage Convention specifically prohibits disturbing sunken warships by any one other than the military authorities of the nation whose flag the war ship flew. The convention is incorporated into British, Malaysian, and Indonesian  national law. China's membership in the UN Security Council would at least suggest that they would respect the convention. But the evidence indicates other wise.

  This was no small operation conducted by SCUBA divers from small craft. Large barges were involved , some fitted with cranes and drag lines. The house sign and other identifying marks of Chinese shipping giant Fujian Jiada were reported by witnesses as seen on several of the barges, though officials of the company deny involvement. 

 The UK Daily Mail is conducting an investigation and has stated in a recent article that they have information that additional WWII wrecks are targeted. Read More at THE DAILY MAIL the Daily Mail  (

The Dragon's Coast Guard once again proves itself unworthy of the name. Rather than a protector of the near sea, it has time and time again after its recent formation shown itself to be a blunt instrument of the Dragon's illegal maritime territorial grab. Rather than a cooperative force for law and order at sea with its maritime neighbors the Chinese Coast Guard repeatedly shows its self to be a protector of poachers, sea bandits, illegal scavengers, and pirates as long as they are Chinese. The THE DAILY MAIL article is particularly interesting in that their investigative reported implicates Indonesian shore side salvers in the crimes. THE DAILY MAIL has published the theory that WWII ship wrecks being pre- Nuclear age have steel that is free of certain impurities found in steel produced after the nuclear age and thus especially valued in the manufacture of certain precision equipment and medical devices. 

 The Dragon once again proves itself to not be a good citizen when in the maritime commons. It may take a major Dragon hunt to finally get the message across. The owner ship of a major navy / coast guard force does not make the oceans yours. Even Dragons must be respectful in the ocean commons.