Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he has found the wreck of the WWII Japanese battleship Musashi, one of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced battleships, more than 70 years after U.S. forces sank it.
The battleship was located Sunday by Allen’s luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, at the depth of 1 km (0.6 miles) in the Sibuyan Sea off the Philippines.
A Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) with a high-definition camera confirmed the identity of the wreckage as Musashi.
“WW2 Battleship Musashi sank 1944 is FOUND 1,000 meters deep … Huge anchor,” Allen wrote on his Twitter page. He has been searching the ship for more than eight years.
“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.
Commissioned in 1942, the Musashi, along with her sister ship Yamato, was the pride of the Japanese Imperial Fleet.
Measuring 263 meters (862 feet), it was the largest battleship ever built, weighing in at 73,000 tons fully loaded. The huge battleship featured 18-inch armor plating and was armed with nine 18-inch guns, the largest ever mounted on a warship.
The Musashi fought in several battles, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea. On Oct. 24, 1944 it was sunk by an estimated 19 torpedoes and 17 bombs in the lead up to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which is considered the WWII’s largest naval battle. There, U.S. and Australian forces defeated the Japanese.
Of the battleship’s 2,399 crew members, nearly half lost their lives.
“RIP (rest in peace) crew of Musashi, approximately 1,023 lost,” Allen wrote in another tweet.
The Yamato was also damaged in the battle and was finally sank a year later by American warships as it tried to reach Okinawa.
Despite numerous eyewitness accounts, the exact location of the Musashi sinking remained unknown.
Allen’s team combined historical records with advanced technology to narrow the search area in the Sibuyan Sea. Data from a hypsometric bathymetric survey of the ocean floor ruled out large areas, allowing a BlueFin-12 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to scour a narrowly defined section of the seafloor in search of the wreck.
“The AUV was able to detect the wreckage of Musashi on only its third dive,” the statement said.
Allen accompanied his tweets with two photos — a valve, which he described as the “first confirmation” for the wreck’s Japanese origin, and part of the rusty bow with a large teak chrysanthemum, which was the Imperial Seal of Japan.
The tweets were later followed by a video showing valve areas, a gun turret, an anchor and the ship’s catapult used to launch float planes.
“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 said.
He added that he intends to work with the Japanese government to ensure the site is treated respectfully as a war grave and in accordance with Japanese traditions.