Explorers find shipwreck thought to be massive WWII battleship Musashi

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mushashi near Brunei, heading to the battle.
Image: Tobei Shiraishi.

Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen yesterday announced his ocean exploration team has found a wreck thought to be the Musashi, one of the largest warships ever built. The Musashi was a Japanese battleship sunk by US forces during World War Two.

The wreck was discovered yesterday local time under a kilometre of water in the Sibuyan Sea, off the Filipino coast. Together with sister ship Yamato the Musashi fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the war's biggest sea fights.

The ship sinking, with the bow low in the water. This photograph was taken from aboard another Japanese warship, the Isokaze.
Image: Tobei Shiraishi.

Musashi sank on October 24, 1944, during the battle and two years after commissioning. Over 1,000 crew died. Well-armed with 18-inch guns, the 263m (862ft) ship struggled to defend itself against waves of aircraft launched from US carriers. Musashi fired into the water, creating large geysers to knock incoming bombers out of the sky. Eighteen planes were downed.

The battle was won by the US and Australia, defeating Japan. Yamato escaped with damage but was sunk the following year, also by US forces. The two battleships were the Japanese Imperial Navy's centrepieces. Musashi boasted a 22-mile reach with its nine main guns, and seven aircraft.

If confirmed, the find completes Allen's eight-year search for the Musashi. Following seabed mapping the wreck was found using an ROV. One of the world's richest people, Allen has reportedly invested much of his wealth in marine exploration and began his quest to find the Musashi out of a lifelong interest in the war.