WWI Mystery Solved with Discovery of AE1 - 11/01/2018


Australia’s first naval submarine, HMAS AE1, has been discovered 103 years after its disappearance during WWI. It was lost off the coast of Papua New Guinea on 14 September 1914. The wreck’s discovery in late December 2017 brings closure to one of Australia’s oldest maritime mysteries, and reveals the final resting place of the submarine’s 35 crew members.

The submarine was located by the survey vessel Fugro Equator on 19 December and further inspection confirmed it was AE1.

The sea floor was scanned with a multibeam echosounder mounted on the hull of Fugro Equator and also aboard the Echo Surveyor 5 AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle), which operated at a constant altitude of 35 metres through strong undersea currents and complex terrain in the search area, which was located between two land masses.

The resulting 1-metre resolution images provided confidence that positive identification of targets could be made. Following analysis of the data, unusual features were catalogued, assessed and prioritised for additional detailed investigation that included AUV and drop camera operations. The first images captured show the vessel is remarkably well preserved and apparently in one piece.

The search party was jointly funded by the Australian Government, the Silentworld Foundation, The Australian National Maritime Museum and Find AE1 Ltd.

Last updated: 27/02/2018