One of the key players in the search for the Royal Australian Navy’s first submarine HMAS AE1 says finding its final resting place was ‘the right thing to do’ both for the men who died and for their families.
Originally established to research and preserve early Australian maritime history, the not-for-profit Silentworld Foundation provided half of the funding for the search for HMAS AE1.
Director at Silentworld Foundation, Paul Hundley, said this project was of personal interest to their Chairman, John Mullen, and required a major effort to mobilise the expedition.
“Rear Admiral Peter Briggs from Find AE1 Limited sat down with John Mullen and me to lay out the story and what they were trying to achieve,” Mr Hundley said.
“John recognised the importance of AE1 in telling the history of Australia’s maritime involvement in the First World War, but more importantly, the importance to the families of those lost.
“He simply said ‘it’s the right thing to do’ and was immediately on board, agreeing to personally underwrite our fundraising campaign.”
Silentworld Foundation set to work and rallied corporate donors and marshalled the support that would make the search possible.
“The opportunity for the expedition came upon us so quickly, we had to call in a number of favours to allow us to enable the search.
“We had a small window of opportunity where the survey vessel was available, so rapidly put the logistics together to get the people together, get out there and ensure the administration was in order to complete a complex survey task.
“Silentworld was thrilled to be part of such a significant discovery. As maritime archaeologists, we work to decipher clues and cross-reference with all available historic records in an attempt to unravel mysteries and learn from our heritage.
“To be able to provide answers to the families of those who perished is particularly rewarding. We are proud to have helped bring a resolution to those families and delivering on the promise that their men are not forgotten.
“Our interest is more than just the discovery. Now we consider the investigation, interpretation and developing an understanding of what happened and how AE1 got to where it is so we can tell her story.”
The Silentworld Foundation has over 1700 objects and documents in its collection and continues to grow, uncovering and telling the stories of our past. More information on Silentworld Foundation is available at: https://silentworldfoundation.org.au