MANILA – Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Imperial Navy’s biggest warship, lying on the seabed in the Philippines 70 years after U.S. forces sank it.
Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of what was described as the battleship Musashi’s rusty bow. The Chrysanthemum seal was recognizable.
The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi lying at a depth of 1 km in the Sibuyan Sea.
The Octopus’ remote operated probe Octo ROV located the Musashi on Monday, according to Allen’s website. The Octopus is also outfitted with an exploration submarine.
“RIP (rest in peace) crew of Musashi, approximately 1,023 lost,” Allen wrote in another tweet.
The tweet was accompanied by two photos, one of which purports to show the ship’s bows with the Imperial family crest of the Chrysanthemum and huge anchor and the other a handle with kanji characters for “open” and “main valve handle” inscribed on it.
Suikokai, a foundation established for former Imperial Japanese Navy officials and Maritime Self-Defense Force retirees, said it had not heard of the discovery of the wreck.
Spokespeople for the Philippines navy and coast guard said they were not informed of the discovery.
Allen said on Twitter he would soon post video of the ship’s catapult and valve areas.
The Sibuyan Sea, at the heart of the Philippines’ central Visayan Islands, includes busy shipping lanes and lies on the path of most tropical storms that cross the country from the Pacific Ocean.
American warplanes sank the Musashi on Oct. 24, 1944, at the height of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, considered the largest naval encounter of World War II. In the battle, U.S. and Australian forces routed the Imperial fleet.
The Musashi was a “mighty battleship” with “mammoth 18-inch guns,” according to the U.S. Navy’s website.
Its sister ship, the Yamato, was damaged in the fighting, according to the U.S. Navy, and American warships finally sank it a year later as it attempted to reach Okinawa.
Seattle-born Allen, 62, who founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, is the world’s 51st richest person, with a net worth of $17.5 billion, according to Forbes Magazine.
In 2012, Allen loaned the same ship that located the Musashi to the British government to recover the bell from HMS Hood, a warship sunk in the Denmark Strait. The search was eventually called off due to bad weather.
Allen is also working on a project called Stratolaunch, which aims to put cargo and manned missions into space.
He launched SpaceShipOne, the first privately built craft into suborbital space, in 2004.
Allen did not immediately reply to a request for comment via Twitter.