Australia’s oldest naval mystery has been solved with the discovery of the wreck of Australia’s first submarine HMAS AE1 off the coast of the Duke of York Islands in Papua New Guinea.
A new expedition to find the submarine commenced last week and the search vessel ‘Furgro Equator’ has now located the submarine in more than 300 metres of water.
HMAS AE1 was lost off Rabaul on 14 September 1914 and the fate of her 35 crew members remained one of the significant mysteries of Australian military history.
It was the first loss for the RAN and the first Allied submarine loss in World War I; a significant tragedy felt by our nation and our allies.
Following the discovery of the submarine, a small commemorative service was conducted by those onboard the survey vessel to remember those officers and sailors who lost their lives 103 years ago. Efforts are being made to contact the descendants of the crew.
The current search was jointly funded by the Australian Government, the Silentworld Foundation, the Australian National Maritime Museum and Find AE1 Ltd; utilising Fugro Survey’s vessel and search technology. Its success is due to the efforts of these teams.
The Australian Government will work closely with the Papua New Guinean Government to consider a lasting commemoration and recognition of the crew of AE1 and to preserve the site.
The information gained from this expedition and from the research to date will greatly assist in unravelling the mystery of the loss of HMAS AE1, and will be held by the Australian National Maritime Museum for future generations to remember.
Lest We Forget.
Images are available at https://images.defence.gov.au/S20173148
Henry Budd 0429 531 143
Defence Media: 02 6127 1999, media [at] defence.gov.au