A team of explorers has found a World War II-era Japanese I-400 submarine that the U.S. sank off the coast of Hawaii to keep its advanced technology from reaching the hands of the Soviet Union.
The mega-sub was one of the Sen-Toku class submarines that were among the largest built until the advent of nuclear-powered submersibles. The sunken sub was 400 feet long and could travel one and a half times around the globe without refueling.
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“The I-400 has been on our 'to-find' list for some time,” said Terry Kerby, who led the expedition that found the submarine, Fox News reported
. “It was the first of its kind of only three built, so it is a unique and very historic submarine.”
CNN said the subs, initially envisioned as weapons
that could attack the U.S. mainland, were underwater aircraft carriers equipped with three folding-wing seaplanes capable of carrying an 1,800-pound bomb.
James Delgado, director of the Maritime Heritage Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a statement that the ship’s design represented a shift in thinking about how submarines could be used. Until that time, submarines were seen strictly as weapons to attack ships.
The U.S. Navy captured the submarine at the end of World War II and brought it, along with four other submersibles, to Pearl Harbor for inspection. Navy officials later opted to sink the subs rather than grant access to the Soviet Union, which demanded to inspect them under terms of the treaty that ended World War II.
The U.S. officials later claimed they had no idea where the subs were.
Kerby said his team expected the sub to be farther out to sea, Fox News reported. It was found just of Barber’s Point.
“It was a thrill when the view of a giant submarine appeared out of the darkness,” he said. Although the discovery was made in August, it wasn’t announced until Tuesday.
Kerby and his team work with the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii.
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