How could a shipwreck disappear?

Sunset over the Java Sea Image copyright AFP/Getty Photographs Symbol caption The ships sank in 1942 in a far flung a part of the Java Sea

Dutch and British International War Two shipwrecks have mysteriously disappeared from the Java Sea, prompting outrage. The BBC asks professionals what could have took place to the vessels.

For many years the wreckages of 3 Dutch warships – HNLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS Java and HNLMS Kortenaer – were misplaced to the sector, sitting at the backside of the Java Sea.

The victims of a fierce 1942 sea combat with the japanese, the ships had gone down along with 915 Dutch and 259 Indonesian sailors.

Their 2002 discovery by means of newbie divers was once a lead to for celebration, and the ships were declared war graves.

But now it kind of feels they have got been lost again – perhaps permanently – with the Dutch government confirming this week that the ships have vanished from the seabed. The Indonesian army is investigating.

Symbol copyright Netherlands Institute of Army History Image caption HNLMS Java was once one of 3 Dutch ships misplaced

Offered for scrap?

there’s now suspicion that the ships had been stolen and offered as scrap steel, a common practice in a area that may be affected by antique wrecks.

The diver who discovered the wrecks intact in 2002, Vidar Skoglie, instructed Dutch broadcaster NOS that he believed Indonesians had towed the ships to the port-city of Surabaya for demolition – although this concept was once disputed via an expedition crew that recently visited the site.

The three ships have been located 100km (60 miles) off the Java coast at a depth of among 60 and 70m.

Send salvage experts instructed the BBC that any try to lift and tow large getting older warships from such depths can be a huge operation involving multiple barges, cranes and skilled divers.

This raises the question of the way the ships will have been taken with out government noticing – even though some have pointed out that Indonesia has a limiteless beach, and its navy and coast defend have restricted resources.

‘Nibbling away’

What used to be more likely used to be that locals clandestinely stripped the wrecks in a piecemeal style over the years until not anything was left.

Bas Wiebe, industrial supervisor of salvage corporate Resolve’s Asia operations, mentioned they could have cut away portions of the rotting wreckage the usage of mechanical equipment referred to as grabs.

“If time is not of the essence, you may have a barge and gear, you have to simply nibble away,” stated any other expert who declined to be named bringing up political sensitivities.

Symbol copyright Netherlands Institute of Army History Image caption HNLMS De Ruyter had 345 men onboard

Any Other risk is that the ships were blown up into smaller pieces – a cheaper and faster technique to disintegrate wrecks.

“It isn’t like an massive explosion like you see on TELEVISION. It Is principally slightly contained but enough to damage aside the vessel and if you happen to do it a few instances, you can just fish out the pieces,” mentioned Mr Wiebe.

But one professional disputes this idea mentioning an absence of debris surrounding the ships’ imprints on the seabed.

“The Usage Of regular explosives might create a debris field, and an even larger one if ordnance remaining onboard exploded besides,” said Arnab Chakravorty, from ship salvage company Ardent Asia-Pacific.

A Few professionals raised the chance that heavy storms, shifts in tectonic plates, and even the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami will have brought about the ships to drift to a unique location.

Mr Wiebe solid doubt on that concept given the ships’ depth and period spent at the bottom of the ocean.

“Over the decades the ships might have crammed up with sand, so that they can be even heavier now. even supposing they moved, they wouldn’t have shifted a great deal,” he stated.

What is certain is that the Dutch have lost the most important a part of their maritime historical past – and it is still to be noticed whether or not the ships can ever be discovered again.

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