St. Patrick’s Day was just supposed to be another day of routine training for undersea researchers at the University of Hawaii. But then, they found something extraordinary 870 meters down, off of Barbers Point, Oahu: a mammoth, World War II-era Japanese sub, meant for biological combat.
The submarine is from the I-400 Sensuikan Toku class of subs, the largest built before the nuclear-ballistic-missile submarines of the 1960s. They were 400 feet long and nearly 40 feet high and could carry a crew of 144. The submarines were designed to carry three “fold-up” bombers that could quickly be assembled…
An I-400 and I-401 were captured at sea a week after the Japanese surrendered in 1945. Their mission, which was never completed, reportedly was to use the aircraft to drop rats and insects infected with bubonic plague, cholera, typhus and other diseases on U.S. cities.
When the bacteriological bombs could not be prepared in time, the mission reportedly was changed to bomb the Panama Canal. Both submarines were ordered to sail to Pearl Harbor and were deliberately sunk later, partly because Russian scientists were demanding access to them.
“It is not the first World War II-era ‘monster’ that the HURL [Hawaii Undersea Research Lab] scientists have found,” notes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. “Last year, off Pearl Harbor, they located the wreck of the gigantic seaplane Marshall Mars, one of the largest aircraft built and used as a transport plane by the U.S. Navy. Two years earlier in the same area, the HURL crew also found the wreckage of a Japanese midget sub that was sunk on Dec. 7, 1941.” (via Boing Boing)