The wreckage of six warships and a submarine that have lain on the bottom of the Java Sea since 1942 is now missing, and naval authorities are at a loss to explain the disappearance.
The vessels â€“ including three Dutch ships, six British ships, and a US submarine â€“ all sank during the Battle of the Java Sea in World War II, when allied forces suffered a huge defeat at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Navy off the coast of Indonesia.
The discovery was made during preparations for next year’s 75th anniversary of the battle, with the Dutch defence ministry the first to confirm on Tuesday that the wrecks of two of its ships â€“ HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java â€“ had completely disappeared.
A large piece of a third Dutch ship, HNLMS Kortenaer, has also vanished.
Shortly after, the British ministry of defence confirmed that HMS Exeter and HMS Encounter had disappeared, with much of a third vessel â€“ HMS Electra â€“ gone as well.
A US submarine, the USS Perch, is also missing.
Naval researchers used sonar to create a 3D map of the seabed where the shipwrecks once lay, and while the vessels are no longer there, the indentation they left on the sea floor is still visible.
While the cause of these disappearances hasn’t yet been confirmed, naval authorities are launching an international investigation, suspecting scrap metal salvagers are to blame.