Researcher keen to study Brunei shipwrecks
A RESEARCHER from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) is looking to conduct a study on World War 2 (WW2) shipwrecks in Brunei Bay to paint a better picture of the period in Brunei’s history.
Dr Frank Dhont, a senior lecturer from Institute of Asian Studies in UBD, said that studying these shipwrecks is vital as they are currently still relatively unexplored.
It was previously reported that the sultanate houses more than 20 shipwrecks, with four dating back to the WW2 era.
This includes an American and an Australian ship that were sunk during the second world war.
Dr Frank said he is more interested in studying the Australian shipwreck, initially thought to either be an Australian ship during the second world war or a Japanese ship that was struck by an Australian torpedo during the war.
“(The wreck) is in Brunei’s backyard. The study is essential. We want to find out as much as possible and how (the Australian shipwreck) is connected to Brunei,” he said, adding that he plans to collaborate with Poni Divers for the underwater exploration.
Dr Frank explained that the Australian wreck, contrary to its name was actually a Dutch steamer named SS De Clerk, built in 1909.
In history, it said that the Dutch scuttled the ship to prevent the Japanese from using it during the war but the Japanese found it, managed to refloat and use it and renamed the ship ‘Imaji Maru’, said Dr Frank.
“The ship sunk as it struck a Japanese mine off the coast of Brunei (near to American shipwreck) with prisoners believed to be on board.”
He said that, as the project is a personal initiative, it would be self-funded and on a low budget.
He also expressed interest in interviewing people who were working at harbours and on ships in Brunei during the war.
“I am looking for people who were forced labourers from Java or other places, or Bruneians who worked with or knew people from abroad because they would be great to learn more history from,” he said.
The Brunei Times