US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

He also posted a photo of a valve from the wreckage, which he described as the "first confirmation" that it was of Japanese origin. -- PHOTO: PAUL ALLEN/TWITTER 
He also posted a photo of a valve from the wreckage, which he described as the "first confirmation" that it was of Japanese origin. -- PHOTO: PAUL ALLEN/TWITTER 
Mr Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi's rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire's Chrysanthemum seal. -- PHOTO: PAUL ALLEN/TWITTER
Mr Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi's rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire's Chrysanthemum seal. -- PHOTO: PAUL ALLEN/TWITTER

MANILA (AFP) - Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy's biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it.

Mr Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi's rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire's Chrysanthemum seal.

The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi 1km deep on the floor of the Sibuyan Sea.

The Octopus' remote operated probe Octo ROV located the Musashi on Monday, according to Mr Allen's website. The Octopus is also outfitted with an exploration submarine.

"RIP (rest in peace) crew of Musashi, approximately 1,023 (lives) lost," Mr Allen said in another tweet.

Mr Allen also posted a photo of a valve from the wreckage, which he described as the "first confirmation" that it was of Japanese origin.

He said on Twitter he would soon post video of the ship's catapult and valve areas.

The Sibuyan Sea, at the heart of the Philippines' central Visayas islands, covers busy shipping lanes and lies on the path of most tropical storms that cross the country from the Pacific Ocean.

American warplanes sank the Musashi in the Sibuyan Sea on Oct 24, 1944, at the height of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, considered the largest naval encounter of World War II in which US and Australian forces defeated the Japanese.

The Musashi was a "mighty battleship" with "mammoth 18-inch guns", according to the US Navy's website.

Its twin ship, the Yamato, was damaged in the fighting, according to the US Navy, and American warships finally sank it a year later as it attempted to reach Okinawa.

The Seattle-born Mr Allen, 62, who founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, is the 51st richest person in the world with a net worth of US$17.5 billion (S$23.8 billion), according to Forbes Magazine.

In 2012, MR Allen loaned the same ship that located the Musashi to the British government to locate HMS Hood bell from the bottom of the Denmark Strait. The search was eventually called off due to bad weather.

Mr Allen is also working on a project called Stratolaunch, which aims to put "cost-effective" cargo and manned missions into space.

He launched SpaceShipOne, the first privately built craft into suborbital space in 2004.

Mr Allen did not immediately reply to AFP's request for comment via Twitter.

Spokespersons for the Philippines' navy and coast guard told AFP they were not informed of the discovery.