Malaysian Authorities Detain Chinese Dredger Suspected Of Destroying Wrecks Off Borneo

A 3D map of the site of HMS Exeter after illegal salvagers had removed it. (Photo credit: The Guardian)

While World War 2 shipwrecks off the Indonesian coast are more and more becoming the targets of further destruction, it looks like at least one ship that allegedly took part in that destruction has apparently been brought to justice.

According to DiverNet, the Malaysian coast guard recently caught a dredging ship registered in China that allegedly destroyed an Indonesian dive site that had three sunken Japanese cargo vessels.

The dredger, Chuan Hong 68, had been under Indonesian Navy detention and subsequently allegedly escaped, but was detained when it illegally laid anchor in Malaysian territorial waters.

The Chuan Hong 68 is alleged to have destroyed three Japanese cargo shipwrecks sunk in Usukan Bay during World War 2 by an American submarine. Until their destruction by the dredger, they were known as the Usukan Wreck, Upside Down Wreck and Rice Bowl Wreck. Their actual names were the Hiyori Maru, Higane Maru and Kokusei Maru.

Check out DiverNet.com for more news about the Chuan Hong 68.

This isn’t the first time, though, that World War 2 wreck sites have been pillaged for scrap metal or items of historical value.

Last year, illegal salvagers pretty much took just about every piece of metal from the 10,500-ton Royal Navy heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, the American submarine USS Perch, as well as a pair of Dutch warships sunk during the 1942 Battle of the Java Sea south of Borneo. (Read more about that here.)