Historic shipwrecks from one of history’s greatest naval battles, the Battle of Jutland, which took place just off the coast of Denmark, are being decimated by divers that are stealing the valuable metal from the ships, according to the British newspaper the Guardian.
The devastation that a former head of the British Navy described as “vandalism” was discovered and recorded by marine archaeologist and professor Innes McCartney, who has studied the wrecks along with divers from the Danish museum Sea War Museum in Jutland.
According to the professor and the museum, 16 of the 24 wrecks known from the battle have been damaged by unwanted guests.
Rasmus Normann Andersen, a board member of Sea War Museum said that the damage was most likely done by scavengers in the scrap metal business who steal the metals from the ships, melt it down, and sell it. One brass propeller can be worth over half a million kroner.
“We think it’s a shame,” Andersen told DR Nyhder. “Our cultural heritage should not be turned into scrap. History is being destroyed.”
The situation has caused particular outcry in the UK, where the desecration of the sunken ships is considered grave-robbing.
Under British law, British ships sunk during the battle in which 6,000 Britons died have the same legal status as graveyards.
The former head of the British Navy, Lord Boyce, has asked the British defence ministry to examine the case.