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Historians investigate raising WWI sub -

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Historians investigate raising WWI sub

Reporter: Scott Bevan

KERRY O'BRIEN: If there's one chapter of history Australians know more about than any other, with
the possible exception of the First Fleet's arrival, it's Gallipoli, but there's a chunk of that
bloody chapter from 1915 which has quite literally sunk out of sight and for many, out of mind.
It's the story of the Australian submarine AE2. This sub, little more than half a football field
long, cruised into history by being the first allied vessel to break through the Dardanelles in the
face of heavy enemy fire. After five days of fighting, AE2 was damaged and then scuttled. This
remarkable piece of Australian history is still intact on the bottom of the Sea of Marmara. A team
of historians, divers and scientists is now preparing to survey the sub to raise awareness of its
exploits and just maybe, even raise the wreck itself. Scott Bevan reports.

TIM SMITH, MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGIST: AE2 is a story that just has to be told. It's a phenomenal story
of courage and fear by the crew because they were going to absolutely unknown waters, under fire.

SCOTT BEVAN: For more than 90 years, the beaches and ridges of Gallipoli have held the remains of
thousands of Australians and cradled part of a nation's sense of identity. Yet another integral
part of the Anzac legend lies deep in Turkish waters the wreck of the Australian submarine AE2.

TERENCE ROACH, SUBMARINE INSTITUTE OF AUSTRALIA: It was a harrowing tale, a story of great courage
and determination and quite a bit of luck.

SCOTT BEVAN: AE2 was involved in the Gallipoli campaign from the first day, April 25, 1915. The
crew's task was to penetrate the Dardanelles Strait and disrupt the Turkish supply lines. Others in
the Allied fleet had tried and failed to do that. AE2 was the first to succeed, getting all the way
through to the Sea of Marmara.

TERENCE ROACH: If those supply lines had not been cut, then the Turkish forces could have been
built up to a level where they might have been able to drive the ANZAC and British troops back into
the sea and what was merely a debacle could have been turned into an absolute disaster.

TIM SMITH: The fact that they got through the defences into the inland sea was an amazing feat in
its own right. It had to navigate through the tortuous narrows under fire.

SCOTT BEVAN: Maritime archaeologist Tim Smith admires what AE2's Captain Dacre Stoker and his crew
of 31 did for five days, defying the elements and the enemy on the surface and in the deep.

OFFICIAL REPORT OF LT CMDR STOKER, 1919: I immediately dived and at a depth of 70 to 80 feet
proceeded through the minefield. During the ensuing half hour or so, the scraping of wires against
the vessel's sides was almost continuous.

SCOTT BEVAN: On April 30, 1915, the sub was damaged by enemy fire. Commander Stoker ordered AE2 be
scuttled. He and the crew were taken prisoner.

TIM SMITH: The AE2 was let to sink gradually to the seabed and it rests today in about 73 metres of
water in the inland Sea of Marmara, off a point called Kara Burnu Point or Black Point, and
remained largely untouched and largely unknown and its story largely forgotten.

SCOTT BEVAN: That is until 1998, when a Turkish dive team discovered AE2 and called in Australian
colleagues for confirmation.

MARK SPENCER, UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHER: AE2 was one of the most special wrecks I've dived on.

SCOTT BEVAN: Underwater photographer Mark Spencer recalls that extraordinary moment when he saw the
intact sub resting upright ton the sea floor, then he spotted enough tell-tale signs to know it had
to be AE2.

MARK SPENCER: In a sense I felt like I was being transported back in time, back to 1915 when I
could imagine the crewmen all inside working away.

SCOTT BEVAN: And these are plans of the sub?

TIM SMITH: Copies of 1913 building plans for the vessel.

SCOTT BEVAN: Yet to Tim Smith, this extraordinary find was only one chapter in AE2's story.

TIM SMITH: Ever since the AE2 was discovered, there's been a pressing need to know more about it.
"AE2, how are you" is often our catchcry, because these sites are incredibly complex.

SCOTT BEVAN: The trick was how to turn need into action. Terry Roach may have long retired from the
navy for a life on the land. But the former submarine commander could not leave the sea or AE2's
story behind.

TERENCE ROACH: When you're sitting on your motorbike pushing the sheep from one paddock to another,
you need something to think about.

SCOTT BEVAN: Those musings in the paddock developed into a plan. Terry Roach is a member of the
Submarine Institute of Australia and this organisation decided to get behind the campaign to return
to AE2.

TERENCE ROACH: It's part of the Australian Navy's heritage and it should be part of the Australian
public's heritage as well.

SCOTT BEVAN: With the Institute raising about $400,000 and a matching grant from the Federal
Government, an expedition to survey and document AE2 will be mounted in September.

TIM SMITH: In terms of identifying the best way to protect it into the future, we have to know the
condition it's in now.

SCOTT BEVAN: And for the first time last week, the expedition team united for training in the
waters off Queenscliff in Victoria.

MARK SPENCER: It is a moment of excitement for us because ever since that last expedition in 1998
we've been trying very hard to get back there to do more work on the AE2.

SCOTT BEVAN: The team of 19 comprises different backgrounds, different skills divers and
archaeologists, naval architects, a corrosion scientist.

SCIENTIST: The amount of concretion growth on AE2 is going to be quite limited.

SCOTT BEVAN: And a paramedic.

HELENA CANNON, PARAMEDIC: Wonderful, absolutely wonderful experience. I suppose a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, really.

SCOTT BEVAN: They're all practising on this day on a World War I submarine scuttled in the 1920s
off Queenscliff.

CAPTAIN: The deck here is about 34 metres to the bottom and you can see it coming up there now and
we're over the wreck now.

SCOTT BEVAN: While the divers work below, a team from the Defence, Science and Technology
Organisation are on deck. Back in their lab, these scientists have combined old plans and computer
technology to recreate the interior of AE2. But once they get to Turkey, they will be looking at
the real thing through the eye of this remotely operated vehicle. This exercise is about preparing
to not only dive into the past in Turkey, but also to chart a clearer plan for the future of AE2.
By working out what time and tide and warfare have done to the submarine, this team hopes to help
provide answers as to what's best for the wreck, whether to leave it where it is at the bottom of
the sea or to try and raise it and put it on display. While that's a question that would ultimately
have to be worked out between the Australian and Turkish governments, the team members have their
own views.

TERENCE ROACH: I've been tending towards raising it, but that can only be made that decision can
only be made after a pretty careful examination of a lot of data and that's the whole purpose of
what we're on about now.

TIM SMITH: AE2, like any large, complex shipwreck, is a very difficult item to conserve and
preserve if it's brought up to the surface. So the current thinking is to leave it where it is.

MARK SPENCER: Emotionally I would love to flick my fingers and say here it is on the surface and we
can preserve it and display it. But I think the reality is that it will stay on the bottom for a
long time.

(c) 2007 ABC