The Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, today remembered the 35 men who perished when Australian submarine AE1 was lost at sea during World War I, with the unveiling of a memorial plaque in their honour.
The Governor-General, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, AC, and Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AM, CSC, RAN, officially unveiled the AE1 memorial to the Royal Australian Navy’s first submarine in a ceremony at Garden Island in Sydney.
The Royal Australian Navy has a rich heritage. As we celebrate Navy’s 100 years of service this year, it is timely to reflect on AE1 and the importance of submarines in the protection of our island nation.
AE1 was the first of two E Class submarines built for the Royal Australian Navy. At the outbreak of World War I, AE1, together with AE2, took part in operations leading to the occupation of German New Guinea, including the surrender of Rabaul on 13 September 1914.
AE1 vanished without a trace on 14 September 1914 in waters off the coast ofNew Guinea.
The loss of AE1 remains one of Australia’s enduring naval mysteries. It is not known what caused AE1 to disappear. Since her loss in 1914 several searches have been conducted to establish her whereabouts. None of these have been successful.
Today I am pleased to announce new Government support for the search for the AE1.
The Government has granted deductible gift recipient status for three years to AE1 Incorporated to support its search for the AE1. This means that all donations above $2 towards the continued search for the AE1 by AE1 Incorporated may now be claimed as an income tax deduction.
The Government highly values the work undertaken by AE1 Incorporated to locate the final resting place of the submarine.
While the final resting place of these submariners is currently unknown, the sacrifice and service of these men will never be forgotten. It is also important on a day like today to acknowledge the sacrifice made by the families of these submariners. Many have spent their lives wondering what became of their loved ones.
The AE1 memorial has been positioned next to the plaque commemorating the AE2. AE2’s war ended on 30 April 1915 when she was hit in the engine room by Turkish gunfire and scuttled during the Battle of Gallipoli. All of the crew was taken as prisoners of war. AE2’s wreck was found in 1998.
Then Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon unveiled the plaque commemorating AE2 in April 2009.
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Department: (02) 6127 1999