Home / World News / Mystery of first Australian sub HMAS AE1 disaster solved

Mystery of first Australian sub HMAS AE1 disaster solved

Investigators have solved the 104-year-old mystery about what sank Australia’s first submarine, sending 35 sailors to a watery grave off Papua New Guinea.

Experts who analysed the wreck believe the HMAS AE1 sank after a ventilation valve in the hull was left partially open when the sub dived.

It’s not clear if it was human error or a mechanical failure that caused the fault. However, with the valve open water would have flooded the engine room.

On September 14, 1914 AE1 left with HMAS Parramatta as escort to carry out a patrol off Cape Gazelle. At 1530 hours the escort noticed the submarine appeared to be returning to port but it was never seen again and all hands presumed dead.On September 14, 1914 AE1 left with HMAS Parramatta as escort to carry out a patrol off Cape Gazelle. At 1530 hours the escort noticed the submarine appeared to be returning to port but it was never seen again and all hands presumed dead.
Camera IconOn September 14, 1914 AE1 left with HMAS Parramatta as escort to carry out a patrol off Cape Gazelle. At 1530 hours the escort noticed the submarine appeared to be returning to port but it was never seen again and all hands presumed dead.Picture: Australian War Memorial

As AE1 sank to its 100m crush depth an implosion would have ripped through the vessel killing all on board instantly, an Australian National Maritime Museum report says.

The submarine was the first wartime loss for the Royal Australian Navy and the first Allied submarine loss in World War I.

She was last seen on patrol off East New Britain on September 14, 1914 during an otherwise successful operation to seize the German colonies in New Guinea and the South Pacific.

A search by five navy ships in the days following failed to find the sub, nor any tell-tale shimmer of escaping oil floating on the surface of the water.

And there was no distress call to help guide the search.

Enemy action was not suspected because the only German vessel nearby at the time was a small survey ship.

In 2017, the wreck was discovered in 300m of water during a search off the Duke of York Islands, near the New Britain capital Rabaul.

It’s not clear if it was human error or a mechanical failure that caused the fault. However, with the valve open water would have flooded the engine room.It’s not clear if it was human error or a mechanical failure that caused the fault. However, with the valve open water would have flooded the engine room.
Camera IconIt’s not clear if it was human error or a mechanical failure that caused the fault. However, with the valve open water would have flooded the engine room.Picture: Royal Australian Navy

It was the 14th attempt to find the vessel and the resting place of her crew.

AE1’s final contact with destroyer HMAS Parramatta at 2.30pm, more than a century ago, had placed her in the area.

Mioko Island villagers at the time also spoke of seeing a “monster” or “devil fish” that appeared and quickly disappeared back into depths.

AE1 was one of two E-class submarines constructed in Britain for the new Australian navy.

AE2 achieved fame when she penetrated the Dardanelles waterway at the same time Australian troops landed at Gallipoli.

After attacking Turkish shipping in the Sea of Marmara, AE2 came under fire from a Turkish gunboat and was scuttled so she would not fall into Turkish hands. All of her crew were captured and became prisoners of war.

That wreck was discovered in 1998.

About brandsauthority

Check Also

Cotton powers to the rim

Bryce Cotton puts the jets on to make the layup against Cairns. Video: Twitter / …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: