Billionaire Paul Allen and team find sunken Japanese warship off Philippines

Wed Mar 4, 2015 4:56pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - A team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has found the sunken Japanese warship Musashi, one of the largest battleships ever built, where it was sunk during World War Two off the coast of the Philippines, the billionaire said on Wednesday.

The team used Allen's yacht the M/Y Octopus, relying on the ship's advanced technology, historical records and detailed topographical data, to discover and photograph the warship in the Sibuyan Sea on Sunday, ending a decades-long mystery about its exact location, a statement on Allen's website said.

U.S. aircraft sunk the Musashi on Oct. 24, 1944, killing more than 1,000 Japanese, or about half the vessel's crew.

"Mr. Allen has been searching for the Musashi for more than eight years and its discovery will not only help fill in the narrative of World War Two’s Pacific theater but bring closure to the families of those lost," said the statement on his website.

The Musashi, which was named after a province in Japan, was commissioned in August 1942. The Musashi and its sister ship, the Yamato, were considered the heaviest and most heavily armed battleships ever built. The Musashi weighed nearly 73,000 tons when fully loaded and had nine 46cm Type 94 main guns, along with aircraft and other features.

It was sunk in the lead-up to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history, pitting American and Australian forces against the Japanese.

A spokesman for Allen's team said further details about the discovery would be revealed in the coming days.

The Yamato was sunk on April 7, 1945. Its wreckage has been photographed a number of times over the years.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Trott)

A wheel on a valve from a lower engineering area on the sunken Japanese warship Musashi, one of the largest battleships ever built, is seen in an undated handout image from a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen off the coast of the Philippines in the Sibuyan Sea released March 4, 2015.  REUTERS/Paul G. Allen/Handout via Reuters