A WWII Japanese submarine was discovered off the coast of Hawaii. The I-400 mega-sub was found at 2,300 feet below the surface near Oahu. The 400-foot submarine was located by the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii.
Lab operations director Terry Kirby said the submarine’s location “was totally unexpected.” Prior research suggested the sub was much further from the coast. The I-400 is the fourth WWII era submarine discovered near Hawaii.
At the end of WWII, the US Navy captured five Japanese submarines. As the ships were built with advance technology, they were sent to Hawaii for close examination. However, as tension between the US and Soviet Union increased, US officials feared the Soviet Navy would gain control of the submarines. As reported by CNN, the US Navy deliberately sunk the ships to preserve and hide the technology from the Soviets.
Although the Japanese did not use the submarines as weapons, they were fully capable of mass destruction. The submarines functioned as “underwater aircraft carriers,” which were capable of transporting up to three folding-wing seaplanes and a bombs weighing up to 1,800 pounds.
Historically, submarines were only used as weapons against ships. However, the Japanese found a way to use the subs to target the mainland. James Delgado, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explains how the technology led to more advanced weapons:
“Following World War II, submarine experimentation and design changes would continue in this direction, eventually leading to ballistic missile launching capabilities for U.S. submarines at the advent of the nuclear era.”
Although the Japanese submarine was found in August, the researchers discussed the find with the US State Department and the Japanese government before announcing it to the public.
Fox News reports the I-400 submarines were the largest subs ever built — prior to the nuclear era. Despite their large size, they were capable of traveling around the world without refueling. The Japanese submarine found off the Hawaii coast is extremely rare and unique. The ship was the first of the only three I-400s ever built.
[Image via Flickr]