Netherlands, Indonesia team up to protect naval ship wrecks

The Netherlands and Indonesia are going to work together to protect Dutch shipwrecks in Indonesian waters, Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs agreed with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi during Blok's visit to Jakarta, AD reports.

The two countries want to protect the sunken naval ships from being illegally salvaged, like what happened to the naval vessels Hr. Ms. De Ruyter, Hr. Ms. Java and Hr. Ms. Kortenaer in 2016. Before the end of this year a joint team will be established that will develop a strategy for the protection of the other Dutch shipwrecks. There are at least 110 sunken Dutch ships in the seas around Indonesia. 

The Netherlands' Cultural Heritage Agency and its Indonesian counterpart Akrenas are also going to investigate the locations where the three illegally salvaged warships used to be. These areas will be marked as a memorial. 

According to Blok, the Indonesian government realizes that the shipwrecks are of  great significance to the Netherlands. The locations where the Dutch ships went down will be mapped and protected.

The Hr. Ms. De Ruyter, Hr. Ms. Java and Hr. Ms. Kortenaer went down with more than 900 Dutch sailors and some 250 Indonesian soldiers in 1942, during a battle with the Japanese. The ships had a protected status as war graves.  In 2016 the ships were illegally salvaged, likely to sell the iron. According to Blok, there are no indications that other Dutch ships have disappeared.