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A German U-boat that was gifted to the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II has been discovered intact off Kyoto Prefecture more than 70 years after it was scuttled by the Allies in 1946.
A research team led by Society La Plongee for Deep Sea Technology, headed by Tamaki Ura, who is also a special professor of robotics at the Kyushu Institute of Technology, announced the discovery and released a number of images of the submarine on July 3.
The 77-meter-long U-511 was built in 1941 by Nazi Germany. It was later renamed the Ro-500 when it was given to the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1943 after it was used to transport confidential documents to Japan.
Two wartime submarines manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan, which were also scuttled by the Allies, were also found in the vicinity of the U-boat.
According to the society, the team searched the seabed using sonic waves from a fishing boat over four days from June 18.
The search spotted the Ro-500 and the other two submarines on the seafloor in Wakasa Bay, which is sandwiched by Kyoto and Fukui prefectures, seven to eight kilometers east of the Tango Peninsula.
The other two watercrafts were identified as the I-121, manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and the Ro-68, by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, measuring 85 meters and 76 meters long, respectively.
The team captured images of the Ro-500 and I-121 through a remote-controlled unmanned submersible.
“It is unmistakable that they are the Ro-500, (I-121 and Ro-68,) based on the shapes of their bows and bridges,” Ura said. “We proved that the Ro-500, which contributed to the advancement of Japan’s submarine technology, still exists."
According to the researchers, the three naval vessels are mostly intact and resting upright on the seafloor at a depth between 80 to 90 meters.
The Ro-500 was stationed at Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, when the war ended, after its initial arrival in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, from Germany.
This article first appeared on www.asahi.com
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