Malaysian maritime authorities revealed recently that cannon shells believed to be from World War II have been discovered on a China-registered bulk carrier ship that was detained over the weekend for anchoring without permission in Malaysian waters, according to a report by Reuters.
The discovery comes in the wake of recent reports that scavengers have targeted two British World War II wrecks off the coast of Malaysia, namely the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse.
These ships were sunk by Japanese torpedoes in 1941, just three days after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Following reports of the illegal salvage activity, Britain’s National Museum of the Royal Navy last week said it was “distressed and concerned at the apparent vandalism for personal profit” of the two wrecks.
The defence ministry condemned “desecration” of maritime military graves, the BBC said on Saturday.
The Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) revealed that a China-registered vessel, carrying 32 crew members and registered in Fuzhou, failed to present the necessary anchoring permits during a routine inspection in waters off Malaysia’s southern Johor state on Sunday.
Upon further inspection, authorities found scrap metal and cannon shells on the ship.
The MMEA believes these shells could potentially be linked to a recent seizure made by the police at a Johor jetty, where multiple unexploded World War II-era artillery was discovered.
The MMEA is currently working in collaboration with Malaysia’s National Heritage Department and other agencies to identify the ammunition found.
The preservation and protection of these historical artifacts from World War II have become a focal point, given the concerns raised by the recent incidents of illegal salvage activity.