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Report released into fate of HMAS AE1

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Report released into fate of HMAS AE1


Australia’s first submarine was most likely lost during an underwater operation off the coast

of Papua New Guinea as it returned to Rabaul, according to the findings of a report from

the expedition that found the wreck of HMAS AE1.

The submarine was discovered during an expedition led by Find AE1 Limited in December

2017, more than 103 years after it disappeared near the Duke of York Islands in PNG,

ending one of Australia’s longest naval mysteries.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said the images collected during the

expedition showed that the boat’s guardrails were stowed and hatches appeared to be


“These first assessments from the expedition indicate that the AE1 was configured to be in

a state for underwater operations,” Minister Payne said.

“The report indicates that the AE1 was probably submerged or diving while she was

returning to Rabaul, after a patrol looking for enemy activity around the Duke of York

Islands, when tragedy struck.”

“The work undertaken by Find AE1 Limited and Silentworld Foundation to search for and

locate the AE1 fills an important gap in what was one of our most enduring naval mysteries

of the First World War.”

“Through the tireless efforts of many, we have discovered the final resting place of the 35

souls who gave everything in service to the Allied cause.”

“We are pleased to be able to provide closure for the families and the entire Navy

community by identifying the resting place of the lost shipmates.”

“The Australian Government is grateful for the support and assistance provided to the

search by the Government of Papua New Guinea.”

The search for HMAS AE1 was supported by the Royal Australian Navy, Silentworld

Foundation, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Submarine Institute of Australia,

Fugro Survey, and the Government of Papua New Guinea.

A history of HMAS AE1 is available at:

Imagery is available at