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Aussies to search for WWI wreck

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Aussies to search for WWI wreck

Postby U-5075 » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:36 am

Navy to Search for Wreck of Lost WWI Submarine
Monday, 26 February 2007, 12:27 pm
Press Release: Australian Defence Force
Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Media Mail List

Monday, 26 February 2007

Navy to Search for Wreck of Lost WWI Submarine

The Royal Australian Navy will conduct a search for the RAN submarine HMAS AE1, which disappeared with its full crew near Rabaul in September 1914, Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Bruce Billson announced today.

RAN survey vessels HMAS Benalla and Shepparton will search for the submarine during routine survey operations in the vicinity of New Britain, north east of Papua New Guinea, between February 26-28.

Mr Billson said the disappearance of the AE1 is one of our country's most enduring and tragic naval mysteries.

“Sadly, AE1 was lost with her whole crew of 35 officers and sailors onboard, representing the first major Australian loss of WWI. I am hopeful that this search will shed some light on to the whereabouts of the AE1 and provide some answers to the relatives of those brave crew members who were lost while serving our country,” he said.

“The search will be conducted with side scan sonar, which will provide a visual representation of the ocean floor in the search area, and a magnetometer which will detect the presence of metallic items on the ocean floor,” Mr Billson said.

The AE1, along with her sister ship AE2, was commissioned into the RAN at Portsmouth, UK, on 28 February 1914, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Thomas Besant, RN. The two submarines sailed for Australia in March 1914 and arrived at Sydney on 24 May 1914.

On 11 August 1914, just five days after Australia declared war on Germany, AE1 was dispatched from Sydney to support the Australian military operating against the German Army on the island of New Britain.

On 14 September 1914, she disappeared without trace while on patrol on the east coast of the Duke of York Island Group. A brief search was conducted without success.

Investigations since the disappearance have raised the possibility that AE1 sank after either grounding or colliding with a submerged object. Reconstructions of German Fleet movements indicate that it is highly improbable that AE1 was lost due to enemy action.

Commander John Foster RAN (retd), of the group Project AE1, has played an integral role in gathering information over the past 30 years to help locate the ill-fated submarine. In recognition of this, Commander Foster has been invited to observe the navy search.
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