Random Jottings

It must have been some salvage job!

I have been reading recently about the wrecks of vessels, sunk during the Battle of Java Sea in 1942 'disappearing' and it got me thinking.....

For the sake of this random jottings I will concentrate on a single wreck, that of HNLMS Java, a Dutch Cruiser, lost along with 512 hands:

 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/16/three-dutch-second-world-war-shipwrecks-vanish-java-sea-indonesia

I have used the link to the guardian as an example but there are loads of other news sites, some showing side scan sonar images of other lost ships like this one from the Australian press

http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/the-mystery-of-world-war-ii-shipwrecks-that-have-vanished/news-story/2e13b83a950880a2f4525bc55b1441cf

But I digress, HNLMS Java, well she was a 155m long vessel of a displacement of just shy of 7,000t which was apparently found by sports divers.......in 69m of water! I suspect that she was found as part of a special attempt to locate the vessels similar to that of Bob Ballard and his attempts to locate the vessels lost during the long conflict at Guadacanal.

I suppose that the first thing to acknowledge is that military vessels which are or should be designated as wargraves are regularly salvaged or more emotively 'plundered' although normally only for non-ferrous materials, with the vessels lost during the Battle of Jutland (Skaggerrak for my Germanic readers) being heaviliy salvaged with the phosphor bronze propellors and condensers removed along with other non-ferrous chunks from the engine room, but even these heavily armoured vessels are not recovered for any of the lareg quantity of pre-nuclear steel that they contain.

The issue that I have is that it appears that an entire surface vessel has gone, lifted from the sea-bed leaving only the scour and impact crater which if true is a monumental feat of recovery.

If we look at ship recoveries from depth the only thing that is in any way comparable is the recovery of the Soviet submarine Kursk which although heavier at 13,000t was a similar length and sunk in deep water of 100m. This recovery took the combined efforts of Soviet, British and Norweigan experts to lift and her construction was radically different!

Submarines are designed to be lifted from depth to the surface, that's how they work and despite heavy damage to the front section of Kursk that is how she was lifted, air was pumped into her undamaged sections and up she came, with a great deal of effort from all parties.

A WWII vintage cruiser is designed to float and recovery of undamaged vessels from the relatively benign and shallow conditions of Scapa Flow was a challenge that only Ernest Cox was up to. Ok we can argue about the term 'undamaged' but all of the holes in the hulls which enabled the scuttling were there by design, not torn into her via Japanese projectiles.

Of course the super-power that is China is 'local' and could I am sure deploy the technology to lift such a wreck but to lift several, this would beg the question why? There would be nothing to gain on the technology front, pre-nuclear steel - again there must be cheaper sources and why such a huge amount? Preparation to lift other 'deep' wrecks would be a possibility but again pin-point salvage for valuable cargo is the way forward and would any country need to lift entire ships from such depths, surely if there were developments that needed to be kept secret they could be simply locally salvaged or destroyed with explosive charges?

So, it's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma!

My take aliens or looking in the wrong place......

Dive safe

RichW

Recommended suppliers

Latest Photographs