After 103 years of uncertainty, the Australian Navy is on its way to solving one of its oldest mysteries with the discovery of the wreck of Australia’s first submarine, HMAS AE1.
After going missing on 14 September 1914 with 35 crew members on board, the HMAS AE1 was found 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 ‘Fugro Equator’ has now located the submarine under more than 300 metres of water.
The 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.
HMAS AE1 was the first vessel the Royal Australian Navy ever lost and the first Allied submarine loss in World War I, a significant tragedy felt by our nation and our allies, Defence Minister Marise Payne said.
The minister added that efforts are now underway to contact the descendant of the 35 crew members that lost their lives and the government is working with the Papua New Guinean government to establish a permanent commemoration of the submarine and its crew.
"Following the discovery of the submarine, a small commemorative service was conducted by those on board the survey vessel to remember those officers and sailors who lost their lives 103 years ago," Minister Payne said.
"Efforts are being made to contact the descendants of the crew.
"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 assist in unravelling the mystery of the loss of HMAS AE1, and will be held by the Australian National Maritime Museum.