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Sci-Tech

Microsoft co-founder says he's found sunken WWII battleship

Technically Incorrect: Paul Allen says he's used high-tech methods to locate the Musashi, which was considered an "engineering marvel" and was sunk by US warplanes in 1944.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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An anchor on the Musashi. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's team has located the WWII battleship. Vulcan Inc; YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

With his money made from Microsoft, Paul Allen has become involved in many fascinating and successful projects. And the Portland Trail Blazers.

His latest is his leadership in searching for the Musashi, a Japanese battleship sunk in 1944 somewhere in the waters off the Philippines.

On his website, Allen proclaimed that his team has found "one of the world's largest and most technologically advanced battleships." (The initial brief announcement came on his Twitter feed.)

How did they do it? "Using historical records from four different countries, detailed topographical data and advanced technology aboard [Allen's] yacht, 'M/Y Octopus,'" the site said.

When it comes to underwater exploration, it does help to have a yacht that happens to be equipped with advanced technology. The team discovered the shipwreck in the Sibuyan Sea off the Philippines on March 1.

Allen's interest in military technology stems, the site said, from his father's service in World War II.

The search for the Musashi took Allen and his team eight years. He explained in a press release: "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."

The search process began with the commissioning of a hypsometric bathometric survey of the ocean floor. Next, the team used a BlueFin-12 autonomous underwater vehicle in an attempt to find the Musashi.

Allen said the survey had been so accurate that it took only three dives to locate a ship on which about 1,023 people lost their lives after it was struck by US warplanes. He didn't specify what advanced technology on his yacht was used.

The Musashi was built in secrecy and was said to have been the largest and perhaps most sophisticated battleship when it was commissioned in 1942. It weighed 73,000 tons with a complete load. It had 18-inch armor plating, as well as nine 18-inch guns. In its time, those were the largest ever successfully mounted on a warship. They were placed on triple gun turrets. They fired shells up to 46,000 yards.

Such was the weight of the ship that even its launch platform took two years to construct.

The intention is to keep the site as a war grave and to work with the Japanese authorities in order to respect national traditions and customs. Indeed, Allen posted another tweet in which he acknowledged the loss of life.

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One of Allen's tweets announcing his find. Paul Allen/Twitter screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET