Japanese subs found off Hawaii could have changed World War II
The two Japanese submarines – which were commandeered and scuttled by the US after World War II – were much larger, faster, and stealthier than US subs of the day. One included a float-plane that could attack New York.
(Page 2 of 2)
The expedition was conducted using manned submersibles operated by the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, a cooperative venture between NOAA and the University of Hawaii. Partial funding for the effort came from the National Geographic Society's cable TV arm, the National Geographic Channel.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Today's announcement comes four and a half years after the same submersible team spotted the remains of one of the largest subs, the I-401 off the Hawaiian Islands.
The I-401, along with the I-14 and I-201, were captured at war's end and sailed to Hawaii, where US naval intelligence officers could plumb the ships' secrets. They are three of five advanced Japanese subs the US sailed to Pearl Harbor after the war. All were scuttled to avoid having to share the information with the Pacific war's late-comer and co-claimant to such prizes, the former Soviet Union.
For a US submarine officer of the day, the largest of these Japanese vessels were little short of awe inspiring.
"The giant submarine's proliferation of compartments was hard to get used to," wrote the late Thomas Paine, who at the time was a lieutenant in the US submarine service and was an officer on the I-400's prize crew as it sailed from occupied Japan to Pearl Harbor.
Along the way, the crew tweaked the galley to fit American taste buds and added other amenities.
Thus, Mr. Paine writes, his tale "may be historically significant when future underwater archaeologists diving on the I-400 in deep water off Hawaii wonder why her scuttlebutts [water fountains] were equipped with General Electric refrigerated fountains."
"Why did her galley feature gourmet cooking equipment (including an ice cream machine)?" he writes. "Why deluxe porcelain plumbing fixtures in the heads? Why crude military electronics topside, while bunks below were wired for music from a deluxe jukebox with flashing colored lights? You have the explanation."
Indeed, within the next week, the submersible team that discovered the I-401, I-14, and I-201 will be taking their craft for test dives ahead of a new undersea research season. The team plans to use those dives to look for the I-400, as well as the I-201's sister ship, the I-203.
Follow us on Twitter.