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Warship on track for April salvage

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Removal of ammunition from the Mekong River earlier this month. Photo supplied

Warship on track for April salvage

If nothing changes, the team searching for unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the warship which was sunk in the Mekong River in Meanchey commune’s Veal village of Kampong Cham province’s Srei Santhor district during the Cambodian civil war in the 1970s, would be completed in late March and the warship would be salvaged in early April.

Mey Sophea, commander of the UXO Clearance Unit of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Force and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC-ERW), told The Post on March 23 that his specialist team was working with the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port’s specialist working group to determine the appropriate procedures to raise the warship. The wreck was old, dilapidated and damaged in many places.

According to Sophea under the instruction of Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, he wants to keep the ship in its original shape to be displayed in a museum for future generations to study. A museum is planned to be built for storing and exhibiting unexploded ordnances.

He added that the working group is searching in four other locations in the Mekong River in Kandal and Prey Veng provinces.

“Now, we are collaborating with Phnom Penh autonomous port, because it has sufficient materials such as modern salvage equipment to raise the sunken ship as well as the technical skills. We have the expertise to extract munitions in water,” he said.

Neang Phat, permanent secretary of state at the Ministry of National Defence said in a meeting on March 22 that the warship lies at the bottom of 27.5m of water and is covered in sand.

“This warship is a remnant of the Cambodia civil war. The warship is too old, dilapidated and damaged in many places from shooting which caused it to sink during fighting,” he said.

According to the report, from October 2020 to early March 2021, the working group had extracted 15 UXO weighting 282kg as well as six human bones and some other war materials. Specialist forces would extract the last of the UXO from the warship in late March. The ship could then be raised and put ashore in April.

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