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WWII shipwrecks are mysteriously vanishing

Posted on Thursday, 17 November, 2016 | Comment icon 40 comments

The HNLMS Java is one of the missing wrecks. Image Credit: Naval History and Heritage Command
Three shipwrecks dating back to World War II have completely disappeared from the bottom of the Java Sea.
Authorities in the Netherlands have been left outraged after it was discovered that the wrecks of the HLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS Java and HNLMS Kortenaer had somehow vanished in to thin air, leaving behind 'large holes' where the ships had once sat on the sea floor.

The vessels went down in 1942 along with 915 Dutch and 259 Indonesian sailors during a battle with the Japanese. Their wrecks were discovered by amateur divers back in 2002.

The Indonesian navy is now investigating what might have happened to them.

One possibility is that the vessels had been stolen as part of an illegal scrap metal operation - a practice that is actually quite commonplace in the region. Given the size and weight of these WWII-era ships however it would have required a major effort indeed to haul them up from the depths.
There is also the question of how such an operation could have been carried out undetected.

According to commercial salvage company manager Bas Wiebe, it is more likely that smaller groups progressively stripped the vessels one piece at a time over several years until nothing was left.

Explosive devices may have also been used to split the wrecks up in to smaller pieces.

"It is not like an huge explosion like you see on TV," said Wiebe. "It's basically fairly contained but enough to break apart the vessel and if you do it a few times, you can just fish out the pieces."

Source: BBC News | Comments (40)

Tags: Shipwrecks

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #31 Posted by stereologist on 22 November, 2016, 0:07
One of the news items I read said that it is possible to blow up the ship into pieces and cart them away. No giant ship at a time is needed.
Comment icon #32 Posted by Codenwarra on 23 November, 2016, 6:52
Six entire ships discovered 2002, now vanished in 14 years later.  All in 60 to 70 metres of water.  It seems rather a big job for a very well organised salvage company let alone locals removing bits and pieces at a time. I'm wondering if the locations are wrong. Is there satellite imagery of the area taken between 2002 and this year?  Does it show salvage equipment moored over the ships?     
Comment icon #33 Posted by Habitat on 23 November, 2016, 7:45
It certainly seems unlikely that a full-scale operation that would be needed to salvage these wrecks, albeit in small pieces, would make economic sense, but it also seems unlikely they have "lost" the locations through wrong co-ordinates. I can only imagine the shock and surprise when they tried to put the memorial plaque on the Dutch ship.
Comment icon #34 Posted by PersonFromPorlock on 25 November, 2016, 21:12
Dunno. Ask King Tut.
Comment icon #35 Posted by qxcontinuum on 6 January, 2017, 5:18
good so must be done. Recycle that metal save the planet
Comment icon #36 Posted by Mr Supertypo on 20 January, 2017, 10:57
you dont need to salvage them, just dismantle them where they stand....piece by piece, day by day....soon everything is gone. Somebody said explosives, well if it works, why not?
Comment icon #37 Posted by kartikg on 20 January, 2017, 18:16
if people are making livelihood out of it, why bother maybe after 100 years no one will be interested in those ships it's just emotional for few generations. 
Comment icon #38 Posted by Timonthy on 21 January, 2017, 1:43
Comment icon #39 Posted by Aardvark-DK on 25 January, 2017, 11:59
Don't worry, no dead bodies there, all have been taken by Blackbeard....
Comment icon #40 Posted by cluey on 25 January, 2017, 12:31
they are way to old to recover...........and how did they move..............................

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