MANILA – Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen on Saturday released a second video of the apparent wreckage of the sunken Japanese battleship Musashi that his team of researchers located in Philippine waters earlier in the week.
Allen posted the 56-second video on his Twitter account, where he announced Tuesday the discovery of the wreckage of one of the largest battleships in naval history. Hours later, he posted another photo of an object that bore Japanese characters.
The 73,000-ton Musashi was sunk by U.S. warplanes on Oct. 24, 1944, during World War II in the fierce Battle of Leyte further east of the Sibuyan Sea.
Commissioned in 1942 by the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Musashi was at the time the largest battleship on Earth. Its sister battleship, the Yamato, was sunk by U.S. forces almost six months later, while on its way to Okinawa.
The video of the wreckage, with commentary by a male narrator, shows what it says is the ship’s outer port propeller, main rudder, twin-barrel 15.5-cm guns, steam turbine and combat bridge with a 15-meter range finder.
It also contains images of the starboard superstructure below the combat bridge, including the superstructure machine-gun placements.
The video lists the names of the crew on Allen’s yacht that began searching for the battleship in Philippine waters more than eight years ago. The wreckage was found Monday, Allen’s team said.
The photo with Japanese inscriptions appeared to have been taken Saturday, and bore the caption: “Musashi a few new discoveries today, including more Japanese writing, any translation help appreciated.”
According to Allen’s website, his team is “still actively exploring and capturing data from the site,” and it intends to share the findings with the Japanese government and the world.
The images of the wreckage that Allen made public Tuesday and Wednesday include the bow bearing the Japanese Imperial crest, the valve of the vessel, a plane-launching catapult and an anchor.
Kazushige Todaka, director of the Kure Maritime Museum in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, has said the images released by Allen show the wreckage was indeed the Musashi.
The video showed the space on the bow for the Chrysanthemum seal, the symbol of the Imperial family.
This is a unique feature of the three biggest warships that Japan built during WWII, according to Todaka.
Meanwhile, a Philippine government official suggested Saturday the battleship is unlikely to be salvaged.
President Benigno Aquino’s spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, said officials with the Philippines’ National Museum are contacting Allen and his team to “coordinate” plans for the wreck, which Allen says lies in a kilometer of water.
But the Musashi will likely remain where it was found, Valte told government radio.
“There have been groups in the past that have also been looking for the Musashi and, in fact, a dozen sunken Japanese warships have already been found in various places in the Philippines,” she said.
“As to queries on whether it will be salvaged, the answer is no, these are not normally refloated.”
A 2009 act for the protection and conservation of national cultural heritage will apply to the wreck, she said, describing the wreck as an “underwater archaeological site.”
Under the law, all cultural properties belong to the state, and may not be sold nor exported except temporarily for exhibition or research. Explorations are also banned without authorization and supervision of the National Museum of the Philippines. Violators can be jailed for up to 10 years if found guilty.
“We do have the relevant law that will apply to this particular case and, of course, we do intend to make sure that law is followed,” Valte said.
The National Museum, which has mandate over archaeological sites and artifacts in the country and its territorial waters, has launched an operation to verify the discovery and protect and preserve the site.