A ship's hull found after the floodwaters receded about 220 kilometres from Kuantan, Pahang recently, is believed to be from the 18th or 19th century.
National Heritage Department (JWN) director-general Mesran Mohd Yusop said the ship made of wood and copper is most likely a British-owned merchant ship or used by dignitaries of that period.
These findings were based on the discovery of metal plates inscribed with the words Vivian & Son and year 1824. The company was established to carry out copper smelting operations in 1809 before growing into a leading smelting house in 1820.
Vivian & Son is believed to have experienced a period of decline in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In 1924, it merged with British Copper Manufacturers Limited which was later taken over by Yorkshire Imperial Metals in 1926.
"Upon examination of the ship’s interior, no artefacts except for ceramic fragments were found. However, we found evidence that the ship had been tampered with as items such as nails or copper-coated ship walls were missing.
"We believe the items were sold to buyers of scrap goods because yesterday, after being advised by the police, a scrap goods company returned the items, estimated to weigh 100kgs, that had been sold to them," he said.
Mesran requested those who are still in possession of these items or goods taken from the ship to immediately return them to the police as these form part of national heritage.
JWN also, according to Mesran, will begin the work of salvaging and transferring the ship's hull for the purpose of research and to seek historical artefacts, and for that purpose, the ship's hull will be transferred to the Kuala Lipis Heritage Museum.
"However, while the ship remains at the location of the discovery, we will seek police assistance to keep a surveillance at the location to prevent further incidents of intrusion or loss of objects," he said.
The shipwreck was found on the banks of the Sungai Lipis, near Kampung Pagar, Penjom suspension bridge after the village was hit by floods on Jan 3. - Bernama