During the Second World War, the Japanese submarine class I-400 was in a league of its own. The submarine measured 400 feet, nearly twice the length of standard German U-boats of the time. Also, it could serve as an underwater aircraft carrier, carrying up to three folding-wing M6A1 Seiran bombers. There were only five of these submarines made, and this recent one was found off the coast of Hawaii, sunk by the United States back in the day lest it was discovered by the then-Soviet Union.
“At the time this thing was sunk, it and its sister ship were the most advanced submarines in the world,” said James P. Delgado, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s maritime heritage program and one of two marine archaeologists aboard the Pisces V when it came upon the I-400 wreck, 2,300 feet down. According to Terry Kerby, the longtime operations director and chief submarine pilot for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, or HURL, this find was “the real prize” – because it was the first submarine for the class, and the historical value. The submarine’s mission was to attack and close down the Panama Canal, so as to stop the flow of reinforcements coming from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean during the latter part of WWII.
The five I-400 submarines were captured by the U.S. Navy, among the last remnants of the Imperial Japanese fleet, and were taken back to Pearl Harbor for inspection. But under the treaty that ended the war in the Pacific, any military technology acquired from Japan was to be made available to other Allied powers, including the Soviet Union. United States-Soviet relations were already tense at that point and a decision was made to scuttle the vessels off the coast of Oahu rather than offer the Soviet Union access to such advanced technology. “More time could have been spent documenting them, but there was a Cold War beginning,” Dr. Delgado said. “It was important to get those subs on the bottom and keep them out of the hands of the Soviets.”
[via Fox News]