Joint Diving Expedition between Malaysia and the Netherlands from 17 to 30 June 2024

A team of underwater survey experts and researchers from the Netherlands and Malaysia conducted a joint expedition to the sites of two Royal Netherlands Navy World War II shipwrecks in Malaysian waters. The expedition took place from 17 to 30 June 2024.

The fieldwork was conducted as a joint Malaysia-Netherlands cooperation. The team from Malaysia was led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence (Royal Malaysian Navy), Ministry of Home Affairs (Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency), Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Department of National Heritage), Prime Minister’s Department (National Security Council), and Ministry of Transport (Malaysia Marine Department).

Meanwhile, the team from the Netherlands was led by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science), in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence (Royal Netherlands Navy), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ( Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kuala Lumpur).

The research team searched the wreck sites of K-XVI and O-20, two Royal Netherlands Navy submarines that sank in Malaysian waters during World War II. Initial findings indicated that the wreck of the K-XVI wreck was not found and is believed to have been salvaged. Conversely, the O-20 wreck was confirmed to be at its recorded location. The findings of the expedition and follow-up actions will be discussed between the Netherlands and Malaysia.

A commemoration ceremony was held by the Dutch delegation during the expedition in honour of those who lost their lives while serving on board these submarines, 36 crew on the K-XVI and 7 crew on the O-20.

The joint underwater expedition provided an excellent opportunity for the Netherlands and Malaysia to enhance bilateral relations, particularly in the area of training and capacity building related to maritime archaeology and underwater cultural heritage management.