Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Desecrating War Graves For Fun & Profit?

The eight propellers (screws to the pedantic) from the HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales have been stolen from their wrecks on the bottom of the South China Sea.

At fifteen tons apiece, these monsters were worth quite a bit just as scrap (bronze is currently over a couple bucks a pound) but there's other value that illicit salvage operators are seeking...
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.

Prince of Wales (top) and Repulse during the initial high level bombing attack by IJN Nell bombers. You can see the splashes of near misses around Repulse. These wrecks are the grave of 840 Royal Navy sailors.