Report into loss of WW1 submarine HMAS AE1 is released

This article has a video attachmentPublished on Mr James McPherson (author), Mr Grant Gittus (photographer), POIS Paul Berry (video editing)

Topic(s): HMAS AE1

E-class submarine, HMA Submarine AE1 at sea. (photo: Unknown. Image sourced from the Naval Historical Collection.)
E-class submarine, HMA Submarine AE1 at sea.

The team that found the wreck of HMAS AE1 in December 2017 has submitted its report into the loss of Australia’s first submarine, cataloguing the successful search and outlining what has been learned.

The submarine was discovered during an expedition led by Find AE1 Limited, more than 103 years after it disappeared near the Duke of York Islands in Papua New Guinea.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said the report would no doubt generate significant conversation about the loss of AE1.

“The work undertaken by Find AE1 Limited and Silentworld Foundation to search for and locate AE1 fills an important gap in what was one of our most enduring naval mysteries,” Minister Payne said.

“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 our lost shipmates.”

Niece of Engine Room Artificer Third Class Jack Messenger, Vera Ryan, said the families have been through an incredible journey.

“Within the families, we often grieved in isolation,” Ms Ryan said.

“Australia’s understanding of submarines at the time was limited. But each search over the years, though unsuccessful, was precious to the families.

“Each one was a reminder the men of AE1 were not forgotten.

“Our men were said to have been lost, but they were never lost to the naval community. They were always there waiting to be found.

“Our men now have a known grave and we are exceptionally grateful for all those who have remained committed to finding them.”

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.

Copies of the report will soon be available to the public from the Find AE1 website.

A history of HMAS AE1 is available at