The graves of thousands of sailors at the bottom of the ocean will be watched over by underwater drones to prevent rampaging looters getting to them.
After illegal salvage divers stole the steel from the Royal Navy warships that sunk in a WWII battle, their hulks have all but disappeared.
Navy chief Admiral Sir Tony Radakin has branded the grave robbers as "disgraceful" and has vowed to use the technology to protect the graves of the soldiers who went down with their ships.
Speaking on a solemn visit to a US memorial in Pearl Harbour, where 2,400 American soldiers died in a surprise attack by Japan in 1941, he said: “War graves need to be sacrosanct.”
“There are thousands of graves at sea and the physical protection is an enormous task.
“There are no easy answers but my aspiration would be that in the future we’ll be using technology to cover specific war graves and large maritime protected areas.”
Admiral Radakin, along with the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and RAF boss Air Marshal Mike Wigston, scattered petals over the wreck of the USS Arizona warship, on which 1,177 lives were lost in Pearl Harbour.
How four young divers found no way out of a 'bottomless' hole and drowned in darkness
The USS Arizona remains the final resting place for more than 900 bodies.
Now, the Royal Navy are testing a drone – which is almost silent and disguised as a manta ray – that will spy on enemy submarines.
The First Sea Lord added: “The underwater domain is going to become more and more important.
“The UK has a phenomenal advantage being one of the powers that is at the top end of those navies around the world that can operate in a very sophisticated way underwater.
“I'm very confident of our advantage in the North Atlantic.”
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In the battle of the Java Sea in 1942, the HMS Exeter and destroyers HMS Encounter and HMS Electra sank with over 200 sailors on board in one of the most disastrous naval battles in World War II.
When Japan's navy overpowered ships from Britain, USA, Holland and Australia, four vessels sank and 2,300 sailors lost their lives – compared to just 36 Japanese.
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A survey found the wrecks had been looted by salvage crews because the steel is not contaminated with radioactive fall-out from nuclear explosions, making it highly prized.
Naval warships and war graves are protected under international law and the desecration of such shipwrecks is illegal.
With a growing number of warships permanently based in the east of Suez to help less powerful countries stand up to aggression from the Chinese, Admiral Radakin said the Navy will be increasing its presence in the Pacific Ocean.
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