On Wednesday, 21 November, the General Director of the National Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) Susan Lammers met with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for America and Europe, Mr Muhammad Anshor to sign a Letter of Intent. In this document, both sides have committed to further cooperation in the field of maritime heritage between the RCE and its Indonesian heritage partner the National Centre for Archaeology (Arkenas). On behalf of Arkenas, the agreement was signed by its director I Made Geria.
This Letter of Intent represents the next step for the Netherlands and Indonesia in shaping and further developing their joint efforts to protect maritime heritage. The authorities in both countries will draw up an agenda for this purpose in the coming years. Heritage experts are also discussing further protection for other Dutch shipwrecks in Indonesian waters. These agreements are an elaboration on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both countries in 2017.
Protection and awareness
The collaboration also involves exchanging knowledge about research and management of underwater heritage, and providing advice, education and training. Diving at wreck locations and sharing findings enables these key maritime sites to be mapped. This boosts opportunities for future improvements in management and protection, but also heightens awareness of the value of sunken warships: not only as lieux de memoires and part of our heritage, but also as the final resting places of war victims.
Research into ships that vanished in the Java Sea
These agreements fill in more details for track 3 of the survey of ships that were lost during the Battle of the Java Sea. The Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science are working together closely on this survey. The cultural heritage services of the Netherlands and Indonesia will extend and intensify the research activities and management of the locations of three wartime wrecks: De Ruyter, Java and Kortenaer.
The future of Maritime Heritage
The National Cultural Heritage Agency, on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, is working on the management of Dutch heritage overseas within the Maritime Heritage International programme. Cooperative ventures are set up with partner countries around the world, with the aim of managing and protecting maritime heritage. In the coming years, the Dutch government will make additional funding available in a number of areas, including the heritage of World War Two and, more specifically, the locations of shipwrecks in Indonesian and Malaysian waters.