Soon it was reported that Chuan Hong 68 was seized again by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in the Pengerang waters, East Johor, with scrap metal reportedly discovered covering the deck of the ship.
Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti, said in a statement that pillaging of warship wrecks for their valuable metals was unfortunately common in Indonesian waters, by both foreign and domestic ships. The practice, meanwhile, is illegal for while the remains of the crew remain aboard the sunken vessels, they are recognized as war graves and are protected by law.
"There are bodies in these ships and they should be respected as war graves," David Yiu, director of Singapore-based Friendly Waters Seasports Pte., told Deutsche Welle.
"The ships are of historic significance because the men that are still inside them gave their lives for their countries."
Among the dozens of wartime wrecks in the region are two of the most iconic Royal Navy ships in history. The HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales were sunk by Japanese aircraft just days after the Japanese attack on the US base in Pearl Harbor.
Meanwhile on Monday, America is celebrating Memorial Day, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the US military.