Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said today he had found one of Japan’s biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II.
Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others.
Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the battleship Musashi, found by his M/Y Octopus exploration vessel one kilometre deep on the floor of the Sibuyan Sea.
“World War II battleship Musashi sank 1944 is found,” Allen announced in a Twitter post that has been re-tweeted close to 19,000 times.
The discovery was the end of an eight-year search for the Musashi, backed by historical data from four countries and using “advanced technology” that surveyed the seabed, Allen said in a statement on his website.
“I am honoured to play a part in finding this key vessel in naval history and honouring the memory of the incredible bravery of the men who served aboard her,” Allen said.
Undersea footage on Allen’s website showed what were described as a valve, a catapult for planes, a gun turret and a starboard anchor.
It also showed the space on the bow for the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal.
This is a unique feature of the three biggest warships that Japan built during World War II, according to Kazushige Todaka, director of the Kure Maritime Museum in Japan.
“I’m almost certain that what was discovered is the battleship Musashi,” he said, adding the find had huge historical importance.
“There have been so many efforts over the years to locate Musashi, but they all failed. I feel like the warship might have been destined to show itself this year—the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II,” Todaka said.
“With the memory of war slipping further and further from people’s minds, I hope this discovery will help make the public think about history.”