Underwater drones could be used to protect Royal Navy sea graves from pirates and looters

DRONES could soon be used to protect Royal Navy sea graves from looters and pirates, the First Sea Lord has said.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 4:02 pm

The move comes after a surge in the number of Second World War shipwrecks plundered by illegal scrap-metal salvagers.

Now Admiral Tony Radakin has revealed that efforts will be stepped up to protect the underwater graves.

The top sailor said that currently, while underwater graves are protected by law ‘they’re not protected by physical presence everywhere’.

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First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin pictured on HMS Prince of Wales, has said that underwater drones could be used to protect Royal Navy sea graves from looters. Picture: Habibur Rahman

He told The Daily Telegraph: ‘My aspiration would be that in the future... we’ll be using technology to cover either specific war graves, or to cover these large maritime protected areas. The way [we] will cover large tracts of the ocean will be a mixture of surface drones and underwater drones.’

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The wrecks of HMS Electra, HMS Exeter and HMS Encounter – sunk off the coast of Indonesia in 1942 – were found to have been looted five years ago.

The ships claimed over 200 lives and should have been protected as war graves.

Then, in 2018 a probe was launched by the UK government following claims that 10 Royal Navy warships, which serve as the resting place for more than 1,000 dead sailors, had been looted by Chinese salvagers off the coast of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Among those targeted by pirates included HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, battleships sunk by the Japanese in 1941, are among the boats said to have been plundered.

Some 835 British men lost their lives when the two ships went down.

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