Posts Tagged ‘wreck’

Watch: footage shows wreck of long-lost WWII Japanese battleship

March 8th, 2015

Mr Allen’s publicity agency Edelman said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr Allen and his research team aboard his superyacht M/Y Octopus found the ship over the weekend in the Sibuyan Sea, more than eight years after their search began.

The Musashi sank in October 1944 in the Sibuyan Sea during the battle of Leyte, losing half of its 2,400 crew members.

Japanese battleship Musashi leaving Brunei in 1944 for the Battle of Leyte Gulf

An organisation that supports Japanese navy veterans and conducts research on maritime defence said that if the discovery is confirmed, a memorial service could be held at the site.

Mr Allen said he respects the sunken area as a war grave and plans to work with Japan’s government to make sure the site is treated respectfully in line with Japanese traditions.

World War Two

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen: ‘I’ve found wreck of long-lost WWII Japanese battleship’

March 7th, 2015

Japanese battleship Musashi leaving Brunei in 1944 for the Battle of Leyte Gulf

In another Twitter message, Mr Allen wrote, “RIP crew of Musashi, approximately 1,023 lost”.

The second ship in the Yamato-class vessel built for the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Musashi was launched in November 1940 and weighed 72,800 tons when full laden.

At more than 800 feet from bow to stern and with a beam of 121 feet, the vessel was capable of more than 27 knots and had a range of 8,300 miles.

But it was her impressive array of armament – including three turrets each fitted with three 18-inch guns capable of firing a 3,220lb armour-piercing shell more than 46,000 yards – that most worried the Allies.

The wreck of the Musashi is claimed to have been located off the Philippines

Japan originally planned to construct 13 Yamato-class battleships but only the Yamato and Musashi were completed before a shortage of raw materials forced the military to curtail the programme.

A third vessel, the Shinano, was being built but was converted into an aircraft carrier when it became apparent that the era of battleships had been surpassed by naval air power.

Assigned to the Combined Fleet, the Musashi was deployed in early 1943 to Japan’s Pacific base of Truk – known as Japan’s “Gibraltar in the Pacific” due to its defences and strategic importance.

A girder that looks like a catapult used to launched float planes (AFP/Getty)

In October, the Musashi was dispatched with a fleet of 67 vessels to throw back the American landings on the Philippine island of Leyte. Spotted by reconnaissance aircraft from the US fleet on October 24, the Musashi was hit early in the encounter by a torpedo that reduced her speed and manoeuverabilty.

Waves of attacks by US aircraft caused damage the length of the warship – US records state that the Musashi was hit by 19 torpedoes and 17 bombs – until she capsized and sank.

Of the 2,399-man crew, just 1,376 were recovered. Captain Toshihira Inoguchi chose to go down with his vessel.

A wheel on a valve believed to be from a lower engineering area of World War II battleship Musashi (AFP/Getty)

The loss of the Musashi was a serious blow to the power and prestige of the Japanese navy, although historians agree that she would not have been able to alter the outcome of the war in the Pacific, which was already dominated by aircraft carriers.

And to the Japanese public the loss of her sister ship, the Yamato, on a kamikaze mission against the US invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, was a far more dramatic blow to morale. Again hit by torpedoes and bombs dropped by US aircraft, the forward magazine exploded and left a mushroom cloud that rose nearly 4 miles high in the 3,055 of her 3,332 crew perished.

The wreck of the Yamato was located in 1982 in 1,120 feet of water some 180 miles south-west of the Japanese island of Kyushu.

Seattle-born Allen, 62, is the 51st richest man in the world, according to Forbes Magazine, with a net worth of $ 17.5 billion, and has long been interested in discovering wrecks of historical importance, as well as space exploration.

His search for the Musashi began more than eight years ago and drew on historical records from four countries, detailed undersea topographical data and advanced technology aboard his yacht, the 414-foot M/Y Octopus.

Despite numerous eyewitness accounts of the engagement, the exact location of the ship has remained unknown for 71 years.

The Musashi was launched in 1940

Mr Allen’s team combined historical data with advanced technology to narrow the search area, with a hypsometric bathymetric survey of the ocean floor commissioned to determine the terrain. This data was used to eliminate large areas for the search team and also resulted in the discovery of five new geographic features on the floor of the Sibuyan Sea.

In February, the team set out to conduct the final phase of the search using a BlueFin-12 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. Because the search area had been so narrowly defined by the previous survey, the AUV was able to detect the wreckage of the Musashi on only its third dive. A remote operated vehicle with a high-definition camera confirmed the identity of the wreckage as being that of the Musashi.

“Since my youth, I have been fascinated with World War II history, inspired by my father’s service in the U.S. Army”, said Mr. Allen. “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 honored 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”, he added.

In a statement, Mr Allen said the research team is “mindful of the responsibility related to the wreckage of the Musashi as a war grave and intend to work with the Japanese government to ensure the site is treated respectfully and in accordance with Japanese traditions”.

In 2012, he loaned the M/Y Octopus to the British government to search for the bell of HMS Hood, which was sunk by the Bismark in May 1941. The search of the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland was unsuccessful, however, because of poor weather and powerful currents at depths of 9,200 feet around the wreck.

World War Two

German U-boat wreck discovered off North Carolina coast

October 23rd, 2014

“As we learn more about the underwater battlefield, Bluefields and U-576 will provide additional insight into a relatively little-known chapter in American history.”

Bluefields, a Nicaraguan-flagged freighter, was part of a KS-520, a 19-strong convoy of merchant ships which set sail from Norfolk, Virginia to Key West, Florida with vital cargo for the war effort.

By July 1942 the Americans had set up a convoy system, backed with air support, to protect the vessels which had repeatedly fallen prey to U-Boat attacks.

U-576, skippered by Kapitanleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinkicke, had already been hit and the submarine was sailing back to Europe when it came across the convoy.

It was a chance to claim a final scalp before crossing the Atlantic and sailing home.

Despite being hit by eight depth charges U-576 fired off its torpedoes, sinking the freighter and damaging two other ships.

The submarine came under further fire and was sunk with all 45 crew on board perishing. None of those aboard the Bluefields died.

Other U-boats got far closer, in many cases within sight of land. One was said to have been near enough to Manhattan to see the lights from the skyscrapers.

And it is believed that the Germans succeeded in landing some agents on American soil, including spies who managed to set foot on Maine. According to local folklore they had learned their English from Hollywood gangster movies.

“We think there are around 52 wrecks within 40 miles of the North Carolina coast,” said Joe Hoyt, a maritime archeologist with the marine sanctuary.

The task of finding them has entailed trawling through the “after action” reports compiled by the escort vessels used to protect the convoys.

Based on this information, Mr Hoyt and his fellow researchers have spent the last five years scouring the area using sonar to track sunken vessels.

“This is not just the discovery of a single shipwreck, we have discovered an important battle site that is part of the Battle of the Atlantic,” said Mr Hoyt.

He added: “These two ships rest only a few hundred yards apart and together help us interpret and share their forgotten stories.”

John Bright, another researcher with the project, said that Americans were still unaware of the extent to which the German navy penetrated the country’s naval defences, wreaking havoc on merchant shipping.

“It some cases the U-boats could even see the lights of cars on the road,” said Mr Bright.

“The lights from the cities helped them because it would mean the U-boats could see the silhouette of the cargo ships and plot their ambush.”

July 1942 saw particularly fierce battles as the US navy bolstered the protection it offered to the convoys, with the German U-boat fleet suffering badly.

“They did what we would not call a cost-benefit analysis,” Mr Bright added.

“They moved away from the American coast and shifted to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico where the merchant shipping was less well protected.”

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