HMS Repulse is under attack again, this time by scrap metal dealers who rig the war grave with EXPLOSIVES

HMS Repulse in the 1920s

The wreck of a World War Two British battleship is being ravaged by scrap metal dealers who are gradually pulling the ship apart so they can sell the metal from the ship.

The HMS Repulse lies just off the coast of Malaysia and was sunk in 1941 when it was attacked by the Japanese. When the ship sunk more than 500 soldiers were killed.

The site was declared a war grave and is protected by the authorities. However when a diver went down to visit the site and place a flag on the ship in memorial to all those who lost their lives, he found that scrap metal dealers have rigged the ship with explosives.

The dealers use explosives in order to free up and loosen the ship’s metal. The diver, David Yiu, says that the explosives were only recently placed there since they were not covered in any sea debris.

During David’s dive, he and his team took the initiative and cut many of the cables linking the explosives to their detonation devices, so that if the dealers return they won’t be able to use them. While they were working on the site they also heard loud booms, so it is thought that dealers were probably working on another wreck in the area.  Two Dutch submarines are also located in the same area.

David is the director of a Singapore diving company called Friendly Waters Seasports.

The dealers’ actions are illegal since it has been declared a war grave, and they have also been found to be plundering another nearby wreck of the HMS Prince of Wales, which is about nine miles away from the HMS Repulse.

The acts of the dealers are seen to be disrespectful and also the explosions they cause are of concern to the marine environment. The wrecks are also often still full of fuel so if they reach the fuel tanks there will be massive consequences on the surrounding environment.

The HMS Repulse has already had its propellers taken, and the back section has been demolished by explosives and plundered. The HMS Prince of Wales has had large sheets of metal taken from its hull.

David says some of the explosions have already had an impact on the oil tanks, and it is already starting to leak out, The Telegraph reports.

Malaysian authorities and navy patrol the area and in November confiscated a fishing vessel from Vietnam which was found in the area of the wrecks and had divers out on one of the ships.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE