Lost WWII Mega-Sub Found Off Hawaii

Navy sunk giant Japanese sub in 1946

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 3, 2013 1:51 AM CST | Updated Dec 8, 2013 12:03 PM CST

(Newser) – A massive prize for marine archeologists: The wreck of a colossal aircraft-carrier submarine the Japanese built to attack the Panama Canal has been found under 2,300 feet of water off the coast of Hawaii. The I-400, part of a class of the biggest and most advanced submarines built during World War II, had been missing since 1946, reports the Huffington Post. It was captured by the US at the end of the war, and the Navy decided to use it as target practice and sink it to keep it out of the hands of the Soviets, who had been given the right to access captured Japanese technology as part of the treaty that ended the war. Declassified documents support the Navy's claim that it didn't know exactly where it sank.

The wreck was discovered by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers, who used sonar data to hunt for irregularities on the sea floor. The sub appeared as a promising anomaly, but they weren't sure of the find until they went down in a submersible Pisces V and spotted the 400-foot sub looming in the dark. There are no plans to bring any wreckage to the surface. "In cases like this, when you find historic shipwrecks, what you’ve done is not just something archaeological," the director of the NOAA's maritime heritage program tells the New York Times. "You have added into the catalog of the world’s greatest museum: the bottom of the seas." (Click to read about another wild underwater find, this one off New Jersey.)

A submersible investigates the wreck of the mega-sub.
A submersible investigates the wreck of the mega-sub.   (NOAA Hurl Archives)
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The NOAA team's initial sighting of the sub.   (YouTube)

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