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Battle of Sibuyan Sea
Daily History World War II in the Philippines

The Battle of Sibuyan Sea ensued: Oct. 24, 1944

On this day in 1944, the Battle of Sibuyan Sea ensued between the Japanese Central Force led by VAdm. Takeo Kurita and carrier aircraft from the American Task Force 38.

After surviving the ambush at the Palawan Passage by American submarines Darter and Dace, the Japanese Central Force reached the Sibuyan Sea near Romblon on the morning of Oct. 24, 1944.

By this time, VAdm. Takeo Kurita had already transfered to the superbattleship Yamato, his new flagship, after his former flagship, the heavy cruiser Atago, sunk during the Palawan Passage ambush.

Aside from the Yamato, Kurita’s remaining ships include the Yamato‘s sister ship Musashi, the battleship Nagato, the battlecruisers Kongo and Haruna, eight heavy cruisers and several destroyers.

Spotted and engaged

As the fleet steamed through the Sibuyan Sea, aircraft from the USS Intrepid, one of the aircraft carriers operating as part of Task Force 38 led by VAdm. Marc Mitscher, spotted the fleet. Task Force 38 was at the Philippine Sea off Samar, protecting the US Seventh Fleet that delivered the American landing forces in Leyte on Oct. 20, 1944.

The Japanese superbattleship Musashi in 1942, with her two sets of 46 cm. Type 94 naval guns. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Task Force 38 immediately dispatch hundreds of carrier aircraft to attack the fleet, with Musashi as the main target. The battleship sustained several hits from torpedoes and bombs that the carrier aircraft dropped that it eventually sank off the coast of the Bondoc Peninsula.

Several of Kurita’s ships were also damaged in the Battle of Sibuyan Sea, but the admiral decided to continue on their course to Leyte Gulf via the San Bernardino Strait between Sorsogon and Samar.

One of the mightiest battleships

The Musashi and its sister ship Yamato are two of the largest and most heavily armed battleships of World War II. Named after the largest province in Japan’s Kanto Region, the Musashi was launched at the Mitsubishi Shipyard in Nagasaki on Nov. 1, 1940 and commissioned into service on Aug. 5, 1942.

The battleship has a displacement of 72,800 tons, a length of 862 feet and a speed of 27 knots. It was also equipped with three of the biggest guns ever built for a battleship — the 46 centimeter Type 94 naval gun — despite the limits that the Washington Naval Treaty imposed on navies at the time.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) installed a marker in Alcantara, Romblon in 2007 to commemorate the Battle of Sibuyan Sea.

In 2015, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced the discovery of the wreck of the Musashi in the waters of Romblon. A group of researchers working aboard Allen’s superyacht MV Octopus discovered the wreck.

The marker that the National Historical Commission of the Philippines installed in Alcantara, Romblon in 2007 to commemorate the Battle of Sibuyan Sea on Oct. 24, 1944. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
References:

Toland, John. “Battle of the Sibuyan Sea.” HistoryofWar.org

Battle of Sibuyan and Sulu Seas, October 24, 1944.” US Naval History and Heritage Command

Silva, Victor. “Destroying the Battleship Musashi — 19 Torpedo and 17 Bomb Hits from 259 Aircraft.War History Online, September 8, 2018

Parameswaran, Prasanth. “Remembering History’s Mightiest Warship.” The Diplomat, March 5, 2015

Diola, Camille. “Billionaire discovers long-lost Japanese battleship in the Philippines.The Philippine Star, March 4, 2015

Chen, C. P. “Musashi.World War II Database

Trivia Question:

During the battle, Japanese bombers from Luzon also sank which American aircraft carrier, the only significant ship lost in the US side of the Battle of Leyte Gulf?

Yesterday’s answer: Battle of Bull’s Run

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