The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said it had intercepted a Chinese ship in the South China Sea on May 28 that was suspected of looting sunken British warships that were seen as military gravesites by the UK government.
The agency said it found 100 unexploded World War II artillery shells and rusted piles of metal on board the dredger. All the bullets of various sizes found were taken to be destroyed, the agency added.
“The Malaysian Maritime (Enforcement Agency) does not reject the possibility of a ship registered from Fuzhou, China, involved in the theft of the remains of an old British warship in the waters of Pahang,” the statement read.
The British HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales sank in the South China Sea in December 1941, after being attacked by Japanese aircraft. At least 840 sailors were killed in the attack.
A spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defense condemned what they called a “desecration” of the military graves following the reports of scavenging. Credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency via Storyful