About a year ago, Japanese researchers spotted the shipwreck on sonar not far from where the Hiei was reported sunk in 1942. The wreck was confirmed on January 31 by the research ship R/V Petrel, part of Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s wide-ranging effort to locate the wrecks of famous ships worldwide. Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) sent by Petrel found the Hiei upside-down off the coast of Savo Island in 3,200 feet of water.
Battleship Hiei.GETTY IMAGES
Hiei was commissioned in 1914 at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal near Tokyo. The battleship displaced 33,600 tons and was equipped with eight 14-inch guns. Hiei was part of the escort force for the aircraft carriers that launched the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
On the night of November 13, 1942, a Japanese naval task force consisting of Hiei, battleship Kirishima, a light cruiser, and 11 destroyers took on an American task force of two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and eight destroyers. The fight, later named the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, saw Hiei use her powerful searchlights to illuminate the American ships. This made her a prominent target for American shells, and the aging battleship ended up taking the brunt of incoming American fire.
American dive and torpedo bombers joined in on the attack on the Hiei, which was so badly damaged she was scuttled after the battle. One hundred and eighty-eight sailors of the Imperial Japanese Navy went down with their ship out of a total crew complement of 1,360. Hiei was the first Japanese battleship sunk by American forces during the war.
Live shells discovered at the wreck site.R/V PETREL FACEBOOK
For years there has been some question about the final resting place of Hiei. During theconfusion of the scuttling process, it was recorded sunk in two different places. The ship was reportedly found northwest of Savo Island.
Japan’s NHK took the footage to the director of the Kure Maritime Museum in Hiroshima, Japan. The museum director stated it appeared a third of the hull was missing, possibly indicating a powerful explosion that broke the ship in two.
Read the original article on popularmechanics.com.
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