Legacy of Musashi

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

A mystery that is over 70 years old has been solved: a dive team funded by billionaire Paul Allen has discovered the long-lost wreck of the Imperial Japanese Navy battleship Musashi. That vessel, together with its sister ship, the Yamato, were the largest and most heavily armed battleships constructed in naval history.  The vessel was sunk on Oct. 24, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. 

The search was funded by Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder. It took eight years. Last year, Allen's team closely sonar-mapped the Subuyan seafloor. This year, they sent an autonomous underwater vehicle to investigate sites of interest the survey had revealed. Musashi loomed out of the blackness at a depth of more than half a mile.

The Musashi was built as part of the Yamato class of vessels planned in 1937, of which there only were two battleships. They were about 30 percent heavier than the largest U.S. battleships, the Iowa class.  Commissioned in 1942, the Musashi weighed 72,800 tons full,  On October 24, 1944, the Musashi’s short life as the flagship of the Imperial Japanese Navy came to an end during the Battle of Sibuyan Sea.  Aircraft from the U.S. aircraft carrier Intrepid located the Japanese fleet, and before long it was swarmed by 30 incoming hostile aircraft.

Severely lacking in air cover, the Musashi fired its guns into the sea, which sent out massive geysers intended to knock U.S. torpedo bombers out of the sky. However, the Musashi finally succumbed to massive damage inflicted by 19 torpedoes and 17 bombs, sinking in the Sibuyan Sea, taking 1,023 lives. The Battle of Sibuyan Sea, which sank the Musashi, was one of several battles fought as part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which is considered by some standards to be the largest naval battle in history.

The first video footage of the wreck of the wartime Japanese battleship Musashi shows the main deck catapult to launch seaplanes and an anti-aircraft gun used in the final defense against a U.S. aerial attack that sank the vessel.  The giant guns on the Musashi and her sister ship, the Yamato, were an engineering marvel.  Musashi and Yamato carried the largest guns ever placed on a ship: nine massive Type 94s that fired 3,220-pound shells a distance of up to 24 miles. At 18.1 inches across, those shells were substantially wider than (and three times the length of) a standard beer keg. The barrels measured nearly 70 feet breech-to-muzzle. Together with the breechblock, they weighed more than 150 tons

To build these guns, the Japanese government poured money into a Hokkaido firm called Japan Steel Works (JSW), which built the big guns. Although Japan lost the war, JSW's advanced knowledge of steel-working survived. In the 80 years since, the company has put it to use building something equally remarkable: the reactor vessels of nuclear power plants.  Until very recently, Japan Steel Works enjoyed a monopoly on the lucrative reactor-vessel trade.  Today, nearly every one of us at some point in our lives has enjoyed the electric power generated through JSW’s steel, a legacy of the Musashi that still lives on today. 

Mr. Allen posted the video footage on his official website:  



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