- 2004/07/20 Salvage operations in Melaka Straits in August

Salvage operations to recover the cargo from five ships which sank in the Straits of Melaka during the Portuguese and Dutch eras will begin early next month, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Ali Rustam said Tuesday.

The ships, weighing between 120 and 1,150 tonnes, sank between 1606 and 1784, and are believed to hold valuable artefacts including pots, gold and coins.

"The ships are the Middleburg, Wieringen, Franeker, Bambeek and Overduin, and their cargo is believed to be still in good condition," he told reporters after exploring several possible wreck sites between Tanjung Tuan and Pulau Besar.

Mohamad Ali said many ships had sunk in the Straits of Melaka, mostly casualties of skirmishes between the Portuguese and Dutch, and 11 wreck sites have been identified and charted with the help of the Melaka State Museum Corporation and the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).

Only three days ago, the RMN was said to have salvaged a couple of Chinese and Vietnamese pots made in the 1800s, he added.

He said the state government had allocated RM171,000 for accommodation, food and equipment for RMN and museum staff involved in the operation.

All artefacts salvaged would automatically be the property of the federal government but the state government would apply for the artefacts to be displayed at the State Museum, he said.

A 200m-long unidentified object was recently found in the mud by the RMN, he said, adding that it would guard the wreck sites to prevent looting.

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