Royal Australian Navy Minehunter, HMAS Yarra, has been undertaking an underwater search off Papua New Guinea for HMAS AE1, the Navy’s first submarine.
AE1 was lost without a trace on 14 September 1914, with her full crew of three officers and 32 sailors.
The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO, CSC RAN, said the search had been ongoing for many years, and Yarra’s crew was up to the task.
“The full expertise and training of the crew will be brought to bear in aid of the search. In the lead-up to the centenary of the loss of AE1, Yarra’s crew hopes to honour these men who remain on eternal patrol.
“It is important that we pause to remember and reflect upon those who made the ultimate sacrifice, as did the crew of AE1, so early in the First World War.”
Commanding Officer of HMAS Yarra, Lieutenant Commander Brendan O’Hara, said a number of scenarios had been considered in determining the search area. These included ‘last sighted’ reports by HMAS Parramatta (I) as well as local historical accounts.
“Locals that lived on Mioko Island spoke of a ‘monster’, (possibly AE1) that approached the reef and then moved away north-east before disappearing.
“Using this oral history as well as previous search results, weather, historical records, drift and topography we have identified our search area in the vicinity of Mioko Island,” he said.
HMAS Yarra is conducting the search before participating in events in Rabaul marking 100 years since the First World War. This will include commemoration of the loss of AE1 on 14 September.