US billionaire Paul Allen discovers 'Second World War Japanese battleship Musashi' – more than 70 years after it was sunk

Microsoft co-founder has been searching for the vessel for the last eight years

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The Independent Online

Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has declared the discovery of a Second World War Japanese battleship which was sunk by the US Navy more than 70 years ago.

The American philanthropist and his research team are said to have found the wreckage of the Musashi, one of the largest battleships in history, off the Philippines on Sunday – more than eight years after their search began.

Mr Allen posted pictures to Twitter on Monday showing sections of what he and his team believed to be the ship.

His publicity agency Edelman today said in a statement that Mr Allen and the team on his superyacht M/Y Octopus discovered the vessel using an autonomous underwater vehicle just off the Sibuyan Sea.

The statement said it was discovered during the underwater probe's third dive, after the search area had been narrowed using locator devices and undersea topographical data.

The Musashi, which was commissioned in 1942, sank in the Sibuyan Sea in October 1944, during the battle of Leyte. Half of the vessel's 2,400 crew members were lost during the battle.

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High-definition image taken by the underwater probe shows what is believed to be a wheel on a valve of the Japanese World War II battleship (AP Photo/Paul Allen)

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Image shows what Mr Allen's team believes is the starboard anchor of the Musashi (AP Photo/Paul Allen)

The statement said images captured by a high-definition camera connected to the underwater prove confirm the wreckage is that of the Musashi.

Experts in Japanese naval history have said they would like to study the images in a bid to try to confirm the ship's identity.

Mr Allen has said his fascination with Second World War history had been inspired by his father's service in the US army.

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Image shows what Mr Allen's team believes is an inverted type 89, 12.7 centimetre gun turret on the Musashi (AP Photo/Paul Allen)

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Mr Allen's team believes this image shows a catapult system on the Musashi (AP Photo/Paul Allen)

He said he was "honoured" to play a part in finding the ship and honouring the memory of those who served on it.

He said: "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."

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An October 1944 image of the Japanese battleship Musashi which sank in the Sibuyan Sea in the Philippines after coming under fire from US forces (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

 

The billionaire said he respected the sunken area as a war grave and planned to work with the Japanese government to ensure the site was treated respectfully in line with the country's traditions.

An organisation that supports Japanese navy veterans said if the discovery was confirmed, a memorial service could be held at the site.

Additional reporting by AP

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