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World War II: Wrecks

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN HL6153, tabled on 16 March 2017

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which government department is dealing with the illegal salvaging of UK and other nations’ ships and submarines lost in Far Eastern Waters in WW2.

Answered on

27 March 2017

The Ministry of Defence works closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when there is evidence of illegal salvage of our vessels overseas. The Government is aware of the illegal removal of material from the wrecks of HMS PRINCE OF WALES and HMS REPULSE. We strongly condemn any desecration of any site of maritime military remains. By invoking the principle of Sovereign Immunity, and by designating specific vessels under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 and the Protection of Maritime Remains Act 1986, we endeavour to protect these important sites where we are able.

Where we have evidence of desecration of the wrecks of Royal Navy vessels, we will take appropriate action, including working with regional Governments and partners to prevent inappropriate activity at such sites. It should be appreciated however, given that Royal Navy wrecks are spread throughout vast locations around the world, that there are limitations on what protection we can provide.