The 43,000 ton Japanese battleship, Mutsu, exploded and sank on June 6, 1943 in the Seto Inland Sea off Kure in western Japan.
The 43,000 ton Japanese battleship, Mutsu, exploded and sank on June 6, 1943 in the Seto Inland Sea off Kure in western Japan. Last week (16 March) a major portion of the ship was refloated by a salvage company persuaded to do the work by the Mutsu Refloating Promotion Association. The Association was formed by the relatives of 272 of the ship's crew whose bodies were never recovered. Relatives of those 272 still missing are pledged to do everything possible to recover the bodies, under the Shinto religion. The Association has promised to reimburse the salvage company for an losses it incurred int eh operation.
In last week's operation, workmen found the remains of one of the ship's officers. Officials said it would take a week or more to remove tons of mud from the stern section of the ship, and that more remains may be found in the process. The relatives of the still missing crew members continue to maintain their vigil in the hope of fulfilling their religious duty.
SYNOPSIS: The forty-three thousand ton Japanese battleship, Mutsu, exploded and sank on June 6, 1943 off Kure, Japan. Last week the stern section of the ship was refloated by a salvage company.
Of the more than eleven hundred killed in the sinking, two hundred seventy two bodies were still missing. Under the Shinto religion, relatives of the missing are bound to do everything possible to recover the bodies. To this end, they formed the Mutsu Refloating Promotion Association, and persuaded a salvage company to undertake the task of raising the ship. The Association promised to reimburse the company for any losses incurred in the operation.
An enormous floating crane was used to raise the stern section of the ship from the seabed. The explosion that sent the Mutsu to the bottom remains a mystery, despite several investigations. The ship's newly mounted sixteen inch main cannons, the world's largest at that time, were never fired. The battleship was fully ready for action when a powder magazine under the third turrent exploded. Only a few more than three hundred of the officers and crew managed to escape. The families of the missing crew members have sought to have the ship raised for more than twenty-five years. The four main turrent of the ship were brought to the surface last July. Ten salvage ships participated in the operation last week. The stern portion was finally raised, rusted and covered with sea shells.
Relatives prayed that remains of the missing would be found. Initial inspection revealed the skeletal remains of one of the ship's officers. Officials said it would be a week or more before the tons of mud could be cleared from the stern. It is hoped that the remains of more men will be found, so that the relatives of the missing can fulfil their religious duty.