Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen found what appears to be a sunken wreckage of Japanese Second World War ship Musashi, one of the largest battleships ever built.
In a successful outcome of an eight-year quest, Allen and his team found the vessel resting on the seabed in the Sibuyan Sea off the coast of Philippines. Equipped with detailed topographical data and historical information, the team managed to track down the ship using Allen's M/Y Octopus yacht equipped with advanced technology.
Musashi disappeared in October 1944 after being hit by American fighter jets at the outset of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history, where Japanese navy encountered American and Australian forces. More than 1,000 Japanese soldiers lost their lives in the incident.
"Mr Allen has been searching for the Musashi for more than eight years and its discovery will not only help fill in the narrative of World War Two's Pacific theatre but bring closure to the families of those lost," said the statement on Allen’s website.
The National Museum of Philippines is now working to verify the discovery. If the museum confirms it is really the Musashi, the finding will be of major historical significance, said Manuel Luis Quezon III, the Philippines' presidential communications undersecretary and resident historian.
"This would be like finding the Titanic, because of the status of the ship and the interest in the ship," said Quezon, whose grandfather was president of the Philippines during the Japanese occupation of World War Two.
The ship, named after a province in Japan, was commissioned in August 1942. Together with its sister vessel the Yamato, it is considered one of the heaviest and most heavily armed battleships ever built.
When fully loaded the ship weighed almost 73,000 tons and carried nine main guns and several aircraft. Its largest guns were able to fire shells of more than 1.5 tons and the ship itself measured nearly 263 metres.
"These are just incredibly large warships, they're the pride of the nation," said Frank Blazich Jr, a naval historian at the Washington Navy Yard.
On Allen's website, his team posted a close-up video of parts of the Musashi, including a gun turret mount, taken by what a narrator called an underwater, remotely operated vehicle.
A spokeswoman for Allen's team said further details about the discovery would be released in the coming days.
The Yamato was sunk on April 7, 1945. Its wreckage has been photographed a number of times over the years.