The plundering of British warship wrecks and the maritime graves of hundreds of Royal Navy personnel is both an emotive subject with the electorate and a political hot potato. Andy Brockman asks what, if anything, can be done to stop it happening?

It was late March 2019 and the evidence of the satellite image was unmistakeable, 50 miles off the coast of Malaysia a ship was positioned above one of the most sensitive Royal Navy wrecks of World War Two, apparently engaged in underwater operations. The immediate concern was this was another case of illicit salvage of the type that had already destroyed the wrecks of heavy cruiser HMS Exeter and a trio of Dutch destroyers and cruisers, HNLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS Java and HNLMS Kortenaer, sunk during the February 1942 Battle of the Java Sea. However, when the UK-based Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust (MAST) contacted the Ministry of Defence they were told not to worry. The ship was the 5000-ton offshore support vessel MMA Pinnacle, on charter to the MOD and tasked with conducting a survey of the sunken battleship HMS Prince of Wales.

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