The largest battleship in naval history
March 4, 2015 5:06 PM   Subscribe

A research team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen claims to have finally found the wreckage of the Japanese Yamato-class Battleship Musashi, sunk at the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea October 23-24, 1944, part of the largest naval battle of World War II.

A remote operated probe launched from his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, had found the Musashi at a depth of one kilometer on the floor of the Sibuyan Sea off of the Philippines.
posted by T.D. Strange (11 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I can only hope this is finally the location of his evil world-domination HQ.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 5:13 PM on March 4, 2015

Now we just need the Wave Motion Engine.
posted by zamboni at 5:14 PM on March 4, 2015 [17 favorites]

I think about those two battleships and then think about the tragedy, sorrow, and waste of war. A tremendous waste of resources (a good thing perhaps, because Japan would go on to lose the war).

Many towns, villages and neighbourhoods in Japan had to give up their bronze temple bells to melt down for scrap that would be shot or flung at the enemy. Like these two ships. These same towns, villages, and neighbourhoods would send their sons to man these hulking floating scrapyards, only to end up at the very bottom of the sea.

And then the stupid things didn't even have enough ammunition to take on the American fleet anyway. They represent the absurdity and futility and stupidity of war. At least the officers had nice uniforms and shiny boots.

That's what the Yamato and Musashi mean to me.
posted by Nevin at 5:19 PM on March 4, 2015 [35 favorites]

Musashi's anti-aircraft weapons helped setting up an intense umbrella of flak above the fleet, while her 18-in guns fired into the water to make huge geysers aimed at knocking down American torpedo bombers. "Running into one of these geysers would be like running into a mountain", recalled TBF Avenger pilot Jack Lawton, "I felt the muzzle blast each time they fired. I could swear the wings were ready to fold every tie these huge shockwaves hit us."

I found a picture of one of those 18-inch shells.
posted by Brian B. at 6:56 PM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

James Cameron must be SO PISSED that he wasn't the one to find it.
posted by argonauta at 8:04 PM on March 4, 2015

It would be so poetic if joint investigation Japanese /American could happen. Respectful, memorial, etc.
posted by Oyéah at 8:28 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

The title is a tad misleading as Musashi shared the title of "largest battleship" with it's sister ship Yamato, for which the class was named. Still, they were ridiculously big, damned boats...And, ultimately, utterly useless to the IJN. If your read the TRM's of both boats, you see that the majority of the time, they were sent steaming out of danger, hauling supplies, or in drydock for overhaul, rather than being used for attack.

They truly are the poster children for the stupidity of war.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:03 AM on March 5, 2015

Battleships also reflect conservatism, a blend of romantic idealism and cultural narcissism (perhaps all synonymous with stupidity nevertheless). If the Japanese would have followed innovation and converted them to aircraft carriers before they were finished, it may have been a stalemate until the bomb. Reagan brought four American battleships out of mothballs, in the missile age, as part of his folksy charm offensive, and it worked for getting votes.
posted by Brian B. at 7:29 AM on March 5, 2015

If the Japanese would have followed innovation and converted them to aircraft carriers before they were finished, it may have been a stalemate until the bomb.

The Japanese had insufficient pilots to man the carriers they had; another one or twenty wouldn't have helped. In the battle that saw Musashi sunk, the Japanese used a force of largely empty carriers as decoys. There were no aircraft available to fit them out properly but the Americans, who didn't know that, would prioritize their destruction, allowing the real Japanese attack to hopefully succeed.
posted by Palindromedary at 10:42 AM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

By the time Musashi (or Yamato) was sunk, not enough pilots or planes, really. Which is why the kamikaze thing happened --- the "planes" were cheap and easy to build, and you didn't have to do much training.

If you ever go to the Yasukuni War Museum in Tokyo, the most interesting part to me were all the letters written by kamikaze pilots before their mission. (The museum was also interesting in that it was the first time I had really encountered the pro-WWII Japan side of the story. A huge contrast with the museum in Hiroshima which was more "war is bad").

Even the Yamato ended up being sunk on its way to beach itself in Okinawa. By that point, it should have been beyond obvious that the war was lost.

The Yamato saw a little more action than Musashi, but Nevin's point is totally right that neither was particularly effective.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:04 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Japanese had insufficient pilots to man the carriers they had

I agree, yet the implied assumption was to focus on air superiority as the core strategy: logistics for remote airfields, more planes, pilots, training, standardized parts, redesign, etc.
posted by Brian B. at 6:09 AM on March 6, 2015

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