The Japanese warship Musashi, one of the two heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed, has likely been found in the Sibuyan Sea, where it was sunk by US forces during World War II.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said earlier this week he found the wreck of a long-lost World War II Japanese battleship near the Philippines.
Allen and his team of researchers have spent more than eight years searching for the Musashi, a 74,000-ton, 800-foot battleship that carried a crew of 2,500.
The Musashi, built at the Mitsubishi Shipyard in Nagasaki, was sunk on Oct. 24, 1944, during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in the central Philippines.
The Musashi was sunk by an estimated 19 torpedo and 17 bomb hits from American carrier-based aircraft over the course of four hours.
More than 1,000 of the Musashi’s crew died during the battle and sinking. The 1,300-plus survivors were taken aboard by other Japanese warships, according to the US Navy report.
The Musashi was found at a depth of approximately 3,280 feet, according to Allen.
The Musashi and sister ship the Yamato were the two largest battleships ever built. Both carried the largest naval artillery ever fitted to a warship, with nine 18-inch guns, each capable of firing 3,000 pound shells more than 25 miles.
However, the threat of American submarines and aircraft carriers resulted in both Yamato and Musashi spending the majority of their careers tied up in Japanese naval bases.
The Yamato was sunk in April 1945 on a one-way mission to Okinawa.
“Since my youth, I have been fascinated with World War II history, inspired by my father’s service in the U.S. Army,” Allen said in a statement.
“The Musashi is truly an engineering marvel and, as an engineer at heart, I have a deep appreciation for the technology and effort that went into its construction,” he added. “I am honored to play a part in finding this key vessel in naval history and honoring the memory of the incredible bravery of the men who served aboard her.”
Allen used his Twitter account to publicize images showing the bow of the Musashi, which features a distinctive chrysanthemum – the emblem of Japan’s royal family – and a huge anchor, according to CNN.
Kazushige Todaka, director of Japan’s Kure Maritime Museum, said that given the location and the depth at which the wreck was found, he was “90 percent sure” that the ship was the Musashi.
“I was really surprised because the location of the sunken ship has never been identified since it went down,” he said. “I have heard countless stories in the past that the ship was discovered, but they all turned out not to be true.”
Todaka said Allen’s team had been in contact with the museum about the ship’s potential location and its expedition.
“It’s a wonderful discovery, if it’s true, as we have long been looking for the battleship,” he said.