Debris scattered over a large area at the bottom of sea in the Philippines indicate that the massive Japanese World War II battleship Musashi had blown up in an undersea explosion after it sank beneath the surface 70 years ago.
Experts from a research team analyzing a live feed from an unmanned submersible March 13 said they believe the Musashi suffered at least one explosion while sinking to the 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) deep seafloor, which wasn’t known previously. The 2 1/2-hour feed provided the first detailed images of the ship, which sank in October 1944.
The research team, sponsored by Microsoft co-founder and entrepreneur Paul Allen, first found the remains of the ship in early March after searching for it for eight years.
The Musashi, one of Japan’s biggest and most famous battleships, sank in the Sibuyan Sea in the central Philippines during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, losing half of its 2,400 crew. It was last seen disappearing into the water in one piece after being struck by torpedoes, but what happened subsequently was never known.
“The wreck is actually very damaged,” said David Mearns, a marine scientist on the team. “`It appears she suffered at least one, if not two, magazine explosions which would have sheered off the bow and the stern, and its entire middle section of its super-structure.” There were holes in the bow area, apparently made by U.S. torpedoes, and the ship’s stern is upside down. A propeller is torn off from a shaft and gun turrets and catapults are broken off.
The team says it is collaborating with the governments of Japan and the Philippines over the wreckage. Experts here say it would be difficult to pull up the ship, though technically it may be possible. Some people consider the wreckage as a place where the spirits of the victims rest and should be left at peace.
The timing of the discovery comes shortly before the 70th anniversary of the war’s end.
Lear more at Musashi Expedition: http://musashi.paulallen.com/