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The Loss and Finding of AE1

Wed 18 Mar, 2020, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Combined Services Club, Level 3, 5/7 Barrack Street
Sydney, NSW
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Naval Historical Society of Australia Members Presentation

Subject:                               The Loss and Finding of AE1.

Location:                             Combined Services Club, 5/7 Barrack Street, Sydney, Level 3. (Close to Wynyard)

Timing:                                 10.30 am to 12.00 noon

RSVP Not required:        However, it does help if you phone or email the Society. E-mail: secretary@navyhistory.org.au, Phone: 93592372



AE1 was the RAN’s first submarine. Commissioned in England on 28th February 1914 and arriving in Sydney on 24th May 1914 to a tumultuous welcome. This was the longest voyage of a submarine at the time. Submarines were also new at this time and seen as a “wonder weapon”.

When war was declared AE1 and AE2 with most of the RAN ships including HMAS AUSTRALIA were tasked to seize the German facilities in New Guinea and the surrounding islands.

AE1 and HMAS PARRAMATTA were on patrol on 14th September 1914 near the Duke of York islands when AE1 was last seen on the afternoon of 14th September. When it did not return extensive searches were conducted after which AE1 was declared lost. There was no debris, oil slick, or distress message. Nothing.

During the following years 12 unsuccessful searches were conducted. Several were organised by Commander John Foster (OAM) a former RAN officer.

In December 2017 AE1 was found using the survey vessel FUGRO EQUATOR and an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and photographed by a drop camera.

In April 2018 a second expedition explored the wreck. This time it was the research vessel RV PETREL from the Paul Allen foundation using a remote operated vehicle (ROV) that took enough detailed photos that the probable cause of the sinking could be determined. A 3D model of AE1 was possible from all the photos and videos showing the extensive damage.

Come along and learn how AE1 was found using the very latest technology on board the FUGRO EQUATOR and see photos of the wreck from the ROV and learn the conclusions on what happened. Also learn why the location of wrecks are not released.

About the speaker:


Noel Phelan is the Society volunteer responsible for coordinating member presentations in NSW.  He is also responsible for a new Society initiative to develop a Speakers Program similar to that of the Australian National maritime Museum where he is also a volunteer.


Wed 18 Mar, 2020
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


Combined Services Club
Level 3, 5/7 Barrack Street
Sydney, NSW
+ Google Map