Chinese scavengers have violated the sanctity of the war graves of 840 Royal Navy sailors.
Individuals from China illegally extracted remnants of wreckage from the sunken World War 2 ships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse which were targeted by Japanese torpedo bombers near the Malaysian coast, a mere two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
These wrecks hold the status of being designated British war grave sites and are meant to be safeguarded.
Photographs obtained by The Sun show the immense dredger named Chuan Hong 68 in the vicinity of the wrecks.
This vessel operates under the Chinese flag and has previously been associated with unauthorized salvage operations.
Hazz Zain, a diver who helps preserves the wrecks said: “The barge was being circled by a small boat.
“I alerted the enforcement agencies.”
Authorities overseeing Malaysia’s cultural heritage and local law enforcement have declared their determination to look into the incident.
The wrecks have already sustained significant damage, according to the UK Government.
The representative for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Luke Pollard MP, promotes the preservation of the wrecks and demands that they be given the same respect as Commonwealth war graves.
Former Sea Lord Admiral Lord West organised the retrieval of the bell from HMS Prince of Wales after it was targeted by scavengers as part of an earlier effort to protect the wrecks.
He said: “They are war graves — in our waters, we look after them, but in someone else’s waters they have to look after them.
“It’s extremely worrying — the Malaysians said they would look after them.
“I’ve had letters from relatives of those lost on the ships.
This is easy to take care of. All the barge needs is a good size hole in the bottom to let is sink as well. Maybe it ran into an old naval mine.