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Ron Dingman
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 06:27 pm:   

Thought you might possibly be interested in this: the noon news program of WBUR (90.9 FM; it's an NPR station transmitting from the campus of Boston University), _Here and Now_, today aired an interview with Brett Phaneuf, a doctoral candidate in oceanography at Texas A&M University, about his discovery of a fleet of 24 Japanese submarines that the U.S. Navy scuttled in 1946 to keep out of the hands of the Soviets.

The detail that jumped out at me was when Phaneuf mentioned the I-402 submarine, which was -- and apparently still is -- the largest sub ever built: this baby was a submersible aircraft carrier. It actually carried planes with foldable wings, had a catapult launcher on the deck and everything.

A sub-sea aircraft carrier. The mind boggles. That should've been a lot more effective than the incendiary bombs the Japanese strapped to weather balloons and floated over here in the hopes of starting huge forest fires in the Pacific Northwest...

Granted, this is no _Atragon_ or _Spaceship Yamato_ (or even that super-sub designed to look like a dragon that Roger Stern dragged out from a Golden Age _Captain America_ comic for the first story arc -- the one featuring the Invaders, Baron Strucker, and a fresh-minted HYDRA -- in the late, lamented _Marvel Universe_ comic book), but still, as Phaneuf observed, had the Japanese been able to use the I-402 to attack the U.S. mainland, it would've "changed the way that the U.S. prosecuted the war in the Pacific." (His understatement slid seamlessly into the Pentagonese we've all heard far too much of lately.)

Phaneuf didn't mention this in the interview as-broadcast, but I suspect that this sub was completed too late for the Japanese to glean any benefit from it.

He did say that all of the subs were exquisitely machined, far better than anything else then extant.

The link to the interview can be found at: http://www.here-now.org/shows/2004/06/20040615.asp; it's just under 4 minutes long. (The link for just this interview is towards the bottom of the page, titled "Sunk Japanese Fleet Found.")

I didn't see any big stories on this when I did a Google news search, but the lenghtiest Associated Press dispatch was apparently ran by the _Houston Chronicle_, in their Sunday, June 13 edition; this story can be found at: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/2625143

The AP piece said that the Discovery Channel, which funded the search (Phaneuf worked with oceanography professor William Bryant), plans to air a special on it in the fall.

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Matthew Rossi
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 10:36 am:   

That does sound really interesting... thanks for the links, Ron.

Hey, look, I'm not dead! Close, but not quite.

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