HMAS AE1

ONCE WAS LOST

Australia’s first submarine, HMAS AE1, was assigned to support operations in German New Guinea during the First World War. On 14 September 1914, AE1 was patrolling off Cape Gazelle. After making contact with the support vessel HMAS Parramatta, AE1 continued the patrol. Instructions were to return to port in Rabaul by sundown.

AE1 never came back.

A search was mounted to locate the vessel which continued for 3 days – no sign was ever found. The fate of the vessel and the men on board, comprising Australian, New Zealand and British subjects, remained a mystery for over a century.

Image: Last known photo of HMAS AE1.  Sea Power Centre

The Search

It was not until decades later that the search was picked up again in earnest by Commander John Foster (OAM RAN Rtd.). His archival research was extensive but his efforts did not end there. Several attempts at physically locating the site of the submarine were made – a brief timeline of these searches can be found here.

December 2017

Silentworld Foundation and the Australian Government, through the Royal Australian Navy, co-funded an expedition to once again search for AE1 – in collaboration with the Australian National Maritime Museum, FindAE1 Ltd. (a limited company established for the sole purpose of locating the vessel and comprised by the team that located AE2) and the Submarine Institute of Australia.

The team partnered with Fugro, international commercial surveying services company and aboard MV Fugro Equator set out to find the men of AE1.

This was achieved on the evening of 20 December 2017.

Armed with information gathered over several years, the most recent of which was multi-beam echo sounder data gathered by the team at IXSurvey (IXBlue) in 2015, the Fugro remote sensing team tackled the task with great skill and expertise with the invaluable aid of the vessel crew under the command of captain Andres Masloboev assisted by chief officer Ruslan Vakulyuk and 2nd officer Andriy Babushev.

Image: (Top) MV Fugro Equator

(Bottom) The Fugro team of AUV engineers, data analysts and geophysicists on the AE1 expedition – Tanesh Thanapalan, Ali Faizal, Sudiyono, Zennezky, Chandran Karapiah, Jaayaprakash Narianan, Marlon Bravo, Walid Luqman, Gerry Galvan, Diensa Refranto, Jemual Rebong, Nugroho, Magnus Windle

Sponsorship

Silentworld Foundation, in association with the Australian National Maritime Foundation, also undertook a fundraising initiative in the lead up to the search, gaining the generous support of organisations and private sponsors. SWF would like to extend the deepest appreciation to all those who supported the search for a vessel of such extreme national significance.

Major Sponsors: