Australian Submarine That Vanished In WWI Located Off Papua New Guinea : The Two-Way Twelve previous government-funded expeditions had tried and failed to locate HMAS AE-1 and its crew of 35, which disappeared less than three months into the war.
NPR logo Australian Submarine That Vanished In WWI Located Off Papua New Guinea

Australian Submarine That Vanished In WWI Located Off Papua New Guinea

HMAS AE-1, the Royal Australian Navy's first submarine, went down mysteriously in Sept. 1914. It has been found off Papua New Guinea. Royal Australian Navy hide caption

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Royal Australian Navy

The Royal Australian Navy's first submarine, which went down with all hands more than a century ago, has been located off Papua New Guinea in about 1,000 feet of water.

HMAS AE-1 vanished off Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, in the Duke of York islands on Sept. 14, 1914, less than three months after the start of World War I. The vessel had 35 crew aboard — Australians, British and one New Zealander.

Twelve previous government-funded searches over the years had failed to locate the submarine.

"This is one of the most significant discoveries in Australia's naval maritime history," Defense Minister Marise Payne said Thursday. "It was the first loss for the Royal Australian Navy and the first Allied submarine loss in World War One; a significant tragedy felt by our nation and our allies."

"We will work closely with the Papua New Guinea Government in the coming weeks and months to consider a lasting commemoration in recognition of the crew, and, importantly, to preserve the site," she said.

The exact cause of the sinking remains unclear, but as Sky News reports "it has always been assumed it was not a victim of enemy action, since the only German vessel nearby at the time was a small survey ship."