This paper examines naval heritage in Indonesian waters, focusing on HMAS Perth (I) and other Allied vessels that sank in the Java Sea and the Sunda Strait in 1942, and argues for a re-consideration of what we understand by value and loss as it relates to this heritage. While the recent (2013-2017) illicit salvaging of these wrecks for scrap-metal has prompted international criticisms, an examination of Indonesia’s colonial and post- war history serves to contextualise what the international community sees as ambivalence towards these wrecks, while also suggesting a wider apportioning of responsibility. Furthermore, a historical perspective demonstrates that the salvaging of objects from HMAS Perth dates to the 1960s. Some of these activities, including David Burchell’s 1967 expedition and more recent interactions with the site by divers and other stakeholders, can be understood as ‘cultural impacts’. But other early salvaging, such as that which resulted in the profit-motivated recovery of HMAS Perth’s two bells, can be seen as an early precursor to the larger- scale salvaging we see today. The paper concludes by advocating a new approach that accepts neither non-disturbance nor the inevitability of loss, but instead prioritises the advance, judicious removal of symbolic objects from threatened warship wrecks.