And just like that…they were gone
The Guardian has a great interactive piece on the prolonged phenomena that is the rapid disappearance from the ocean floor of WWII ship wrecks in Indonesia including the battered veterans of the Battle of Java and others.
Fueled by a a booming demand in China for scrap metal, large crane barges have been photographed above wreck sites, often with huge amounts of rusted steel on their decks.
“At the seabed, divers have found ships cut in half. Many have been removed completely, leaving a ship-shaped indent.”
Why all the risk and expense to rob war graves for scrap steel? It’s not just your typical scrap steel.
Archeologists believe the criminals might be turning a profit because the hulls are one of the world’s few remaining deposits of “low-background” metals. Having been made before atomic bomb explosions in 1945 and subsequent nuclear tests, the steel is free of radiation. This makes even small quantities that have survived the saltwater extremely useful for finely calibrated instruments such as Geiger counters, space sensors and medical imaging.