First-Look: The MUSASHI Wreck
Posted by Matty on March 8, 2015, 16:51:43
Edited by board administrator March 8, 2015, 17:32:16
-- Originally Posted 3/8/15-- |
The following is a quick look at the first-released pics of the Paul Allen expedition's location of the wreck of the IJN Musashi, sunk October 24, 1944 in the Sibuyan Sea, Philippines, and (at least my own) first impressions of these, and some of their associated reporting:
IMPERIAL CHRYSANTHEMUM CREST
The item of paramount interest is of course the bow chrysanthemum: a golden cap of sheet-metal, affixed to the tip of the prow. As the largest warships (ever) in the IJN, the Yamato-class BBs and only these two sisters, accordingly, had the largest chrysanthemums - exactly 2 meters in diameter, each - and since the Yamato was sunk far from this area (and moreover has already been positively identified), confirmation of a 2m-wide chrysanthemum crest here, would by itself conclusively prove this wreck to be Musashi.
Provocatively, the discoverer's (Allen's) first tweets explicitly stated "bow Chrysanthemum", however they do not claim any size measurements - moreover, their first pics disturbingly reveal the actual chrysanthemum shield missing, and again, closer-up - its base appearing much cleaner, and completely un-encrusted, than the surrioundings - and further that strips of the de-gaussing cable to have been scraped completely clean.
Finally, of the several videos already posted, I have seen none referring to the bow, and exactly what may or may not have been done, there.
It is already clear, however, that (at least the bow degaussing strip on) the wreck has been disturbed - and if Allen's group actually took the chrysanthemum it would, by any standard, represent a very F-ed up act, and the crest should be immediatelly surrendered to the Philippine government, for their appropriate disposition (no doubt in negotiation with the Japanese government).
Apart the above, however, the shape and configuration of the bow do indeed look uniquely like Musashi: AFAIK, no other ship(s) lost in the Philippines - certainly none of the cruisers - had any bow so blunt (plus, two pairs of fairleads and centerline hawse-hole) as this, which is surely Musashi's.
Also implied (at least in some articles) as being an identifier for this wreck, is a pic of some blasted-open, lower deck fittings including a valve wheel, this typical extreme closeup seen to depict Japanese characters, on it. However, the claim made for these characters is only that they say "main valve handle" - hardly conclusive, as to anything - meanwhile, in the above photo the black characters appear, disturbingly, to be far sharper than virtually any other feature in the image: apparently exceeding the focus/resolution of the image, as if photo-retouched after the fact.
Such questions as the above - even if, as hoped, soon resolved to be completely above-board - demonstrate the preferability of having such expeditions led by a scientist, preferrably, the most knowlegeable historian(s) - having a reputation for objective research to uphold - rather than simply the wealthiest/most capable of underwriting the expedition. My longtime favorite has been Dr. Bob Ballard - though I'm sure there are several others who could have sufficed, as well.
In any case, the Allen expedition's first-released pics also include this pic of an anchor, seen/cropped a little closer, here, which - to judge by the hawse-ring - should be a bow anchor, but with the de-gaussing strip and apparent deck-edge so closeby, could equally if not more likely be an anchor at the stern.
Likewise, this pic of a deformed curving lip, purporting to show "a turret", does not appear to relate to any of Musashi's massive 18-inch, nor even 6-inch turret barbettes, but instead - per the close-range visibility of its contents, as well as detail of encrustations - depicts far lighter-guage plating, plausible for a Twin-127mm (5-inch) Gun House, its dome-like enclosure ripped away. Numerous Triple-37mm AA mounts were also enclosed in (smaller), dome-like housings on Musashi's main deck, as well as in her superstructure.
CATAPULT (or something close)
Finally, a pic reputed to be one end of a "catapult" may indeed be just that - however the heavy rotating table which should be supporting its center is not in evidence, and also the drop to the deck does not look far enough (to my eye), nor its girder-construction quite heavy enough. Though I do concede optical illusion can attend any given pic(s) - especially one(s) still half-shrouded in darkness - still, it should be noted there were two other items, located in the same area of the fantail as the catapults, of similar girder- and rail-form construction: the aircraft Dolley Carriages, and the Rail Grid, on which they were moved about - thus (as yet) it would not surprise me to learn the above pic actually showed one or both of these, instead.
In any case, the wreck is certainly Musashi - looks to be in rather good condition, as well as in crystal-clear water, so her damaged as well as undamaged features should be very clearly visible - and, with any luck we will see a whole lot of ALL of those!