Loss of the AE1

A for Australian
E for submarine class
1 for first submarine of Royal Australian Navy Fleet

Photo: Australian Submarine AE1 [AWM H17537]
This photo has been reproduced with the permission of the Australian War Memorial

Ninety four years ago, on Monday 14th September 1914, the Royal Australian Navy lost its first vessel in World War 1. The AE1 vanished while on patrol with HMAS Parramatta, off the coast of New Britain. The AE1 and AE2 were the first submarines of the Royal Australian Navy and had only arrived in Sydney four months earlier, from England. When war was declared the submarines were deployed to take part in the successful capture of the German radio base at Rabual.

To read about the AE1 and its loss click here.

The commanding officer of the vessel, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas Besant RN, and 34 submariners lost their lives when the submarine disappeared. To read a complete list of the crew members who made the ultimate sacrifice click here.

It is believed that the AE1 hit a coral reef and sank in deep water. It is a mystery still to be solved. The latest unsuccessful search took place in May 2007. Click here to view a report from the ABC Lateline Program.


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