HL Deb 08 May 2001 vol 625 cc171-2WA
Lord Northbrook

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether warships lost at sea, either in conflict or under stress of weather, are government property; and whether those entering these sunken warships or removing items from them without government approval and the approval of the survivors' association related to that ship are committing a criminal offence. [HL1893]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The rights of ownership enjoyed by Her Majesty's Government in respect of their military vessels are not lost merely because those vessels have sunk or foundered. Diving on a sunken military vessel in United Kingdom waters is not a criminal offence, although those who remove any items from a sunken military vessel may be guilty of theft. Where there is evidence of theft from vessels in international waters, representations would be made to the appropriate authorities.