© 2001 Anthony P. Tully
9 May 2001
I have the pleasure to announce that in part inspired by my article calling attention to the mysteries of the Battle of Surigao Strait and the sinkings of the Japanese battleships FUSO and YAMASHIRO an independent non-profit diving company, John Bennet Deep Ocean Research International has apparently located the wreck of the YAMASHIRO.
John Bennet himself holds the world record for an untethered deep ocean scuba dive. On June 5, 2000 John Bennet descended 254 metres (883 feet) at Puerto Galarta, Philippines, for a dive time lasting 6 hours and 45 minutes. This was accomplished with an open-circuit trimix by new mixed gas diving techniques developed by John Bennett, which allows such depths to be economically and safely attained. Following this, it was desired to determine dive targets in the region of historical interest which would be in range of the new techniques, while of depth to provide challenge and a good test.
On March 11, 2001, I was contacted by Barry J. Mather & Jim Noble of the team. They informed me that after some months of searching for a suitable dive target, upon reading my "Shell Game at Surigao: The entangled fates of battleships Fuso and Yamashiro" (June 1999) article, further research was conducted and it was determined that the FUSO and YAMASHIRO would be ideal subjects. The FUSO and YAMASHIRO and possibly other wrecks would be located, dived, "hopefully identifying and ascertaining the final resting positions and terminal damage characteristics." Some correspondence followed, in which ways to distinguish the two battleships and establish principle points of identification were discussed and relevant illustrations provided. The intention was to make an initial reconnaissance search in April to locate the YAMASHIRO, and hopefully obtains scans to allow setting up of future dives and support. On April 10, 2001the author was informed that a wreck believed to be the battleship YAMASHIRO had been located in a position adjacent to, though some considerable miles from, her recorded sinking position. According to preliminary digital photo scans, the wreck appears to be largely intact and identification possible.
At this time tentative plans are for the return trip to take place in August of this year, with dives over a week's time to the YAMASHIRO and to locate and dive one or both halfs of the FUSO to solve her mystery. Memorial plaques then to be placed. Some sponsorship for lighting, the boat, and gases used have been obtained but further support and interest would be greatly appreciated and allow for effective bottom times and documentation. The coming venture will be challenging, some dives possibly exceeding their own current world record.
Needless to say, we are very excited about the historical importance and potential for answering unsolved questions with this find. I will be posting further updates and details as they become available and are released. - Tony
A.P. "Tony" Tully
and to visit the John Bennett Deep Ocean Research Int'l website at: