Microsoft co-founder and yacht owner Paul Allen and his team on board superyacht Octopus have discovered what is believed to be the wreck of one of the biggest warships of the Second World War, the Japanese ship Musashi, which sunk in 1944.
Paul Allen has been looking for the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Yamato class battleship Musashi for eight years, using the largest expedition superyacht in the world, 126 metre Lürssen Octopus as his lead search platform. The billionaire philanthropist broke the news on Twitter after the wreck was found on 2 March lying on the seabed 1,000 metres down, in the Sibuyan Sea off the coast of the Philippines.
She was lost on 24 October 1944, and Paul Allen’s team have shared video footage (above) showing the boat for the first time since her disappearance. Shot remotely via Octopus’ unmanned submersible vehicle, the footage shows details on the warship such as a valve wheel from a lower engineering area, Musashi’s catapult system which launched its Mitsubishi planes, a 12.7cm gun turret, its two 15-ton anchors and the bow of the Musashi, which would have had on it a large teak chrysanthemum which was the imperial seal of Japan.
The director of Japan's Kure Maritime Museum Kazushige Todaka has told CNN after viewing the footage that it appeared that the vessel was the Musashi and that given the location and the depth at which the wreck was found, he was "90 per cent sure" it was her.
In an interview with CNN, he says, "The location of the sunken ship has never been identified since it went down. I have heard countless stories in the past that the ship was discovered, but they all turned out not to be true. It's a wonderful discovery, if it's true, as we have long been looking for the battleship." Todaka said it was “a meaningful discovery and a good chance for us to remind ourselves about the war and its tragedy”.
Paul Allen told CNN that he had been fascinated with World War II history all his life, inspired by his father's service in the U.S. Army, saying, "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. 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."