Manila: The presumed wreck of one of Japan`s most famous World War II battleships whose discovery in the Philippines was announced by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen this week is unlikely to be salvaged, an official suggested Saturday.
The American billionaire said Wednesday his exploration team had found the Musashi on the bed of the Sibuyan Sea in the central Philippines some 70 years after it was sunk by US forces in World War II.
Excited historians have likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the wreck of the Titanic, the famed British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg in 1912.
President Benigno Aquino`s spokeswoman Abigail Valte said officials of the Philippines` National Museum are contacting Allen and his team to "coordinate" on what to do with the wreck, which Allen says lies a kilometre (0.6 miles) under water.
However, the Musashi will likely remain where it was found, she told government radio.
"There have been groups in the past that have also been looking for the Musashi and, in fact, a dozen sunken Japanese warships have already been found in various places in the Philippines," she said.
"As to queries on whether it will be salvaged, the answer is no, these are not normally refloated."
A 2009 act for the protection and conservation of national cultural heritage will apply to the wreck, she said, describing the wreck as an "underwater archaeological site".
Under the law all cultural properties belong to the state, and may not be sold nor exported except temporarily for exhibition or research.
Explorations are also banned without National Museum authorisation and supervision. Violators can be jailed for up to 10 years if found guilty.
"We do have the relevant law that will apply to this particular case and, of course, we do intend to make sure that law is followed," Valte said.
National Museum director Jeremy Barns could not be reached for comment by AFP on Saturday.
The 263-metre (863-foot) Musashi was sunk in 1944 amid a US campaign to liberate the Philippines, its former colony, from brutal Japanese World War II occupation.
Allen said the discovery was the outcome of an eight-year search for the battleship, backed by historical data from four countries and using "advanced technology" that surveyed the seabed.
Undersea footage on Allen`s website showed what were described as a valve, a catapult for planes, a gun turret and a starboard anchor.
It also showed the space on the bow for the Japanese empire`s Chrysanthemum seal.
This is a unique feature of the three biggest warships that Japan built during World War II, according to Kazushige Todaka, director of the Kure Maritime Museum in Japan.