Sunken Japanese battleship found off Solomons

Sunken Japanese battleship found off Solomons

A US research team has discovered a battleship that belonged to the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Navy lying in waters about 1,000 meters deep off the Solomon Islands. The ship sank in a battle in the South Pacific during World War Two.

NHK has obtained video footage of the ship, named the Hiei. The discovery has led to a new theory about why it sank.

The research team is part of a foundation created by Microsoft's late co-founder Paul Allen. The team's search using a specially equipped vessel continued after Allen died last October.

The team says it found the battleship on January 31st on the seabed 985 meters down, northwest of Savo Island.
Sonar imaging shows the vessel lying with its keel up.

Footage captured by a remotely-operated underwater vehicle shows the ship's enormous propellers and rudders, and the barrels of anti-aircraft guns.

The Hiei was built in 1914. It went through numerous modifications before taking part in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But an Allied fleet attack during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 rendered the ship unseaworthy. It had been believed that the crew scuttled the vessel.

NHK asked Kazushige Todaka, the Director of the Kure Maritime Museum, known as the Yamato Museum, to analyze the footage.

Todaka says that about a third of the ship's hull seems to be missing. He says this suggests that an explosion was the cause of its sinking.

Todaka added that the discovery reveals a missing part of the history of the Hiei, which took part in major sea battles during the Pacific War.

The US research team says it will publish photos and videos captured by the submarine and offer them for use in research and surveys.