The Royal Australian Navy pauses to honour those who died in one of the RAN’s most enduring maritime mysteries.
On 14 September 1914, one of Australia’s first submarines AE1 was conducting a routine patrol to the east of the Duke of York Island group, near Rabaul, when she vanished. Despite three days of searching, no trace of oil, debris or any of the 32 sailors and three officers on board was found.
The loss of AE1 is one of Australia’s worst naval disasters and remains one of its greatest mysteries. AE1’s final resting place is not known and has become the subject of significant historical research, vigorous debate and several unsuccessful attempts to locate her wreck.
Navy’s Director General Submarine Capability Commodore Greg Sammut said submarines remain as critical to Australia’s maritime defence capability now as they were 98 years ago.
“Submarines have and will continue to play an integral and pivotal role in the defence of Australia and her national interests. But as we look to the future it is important that we honour the memory of the crew of AE1, which we proudly prefer to recall as remaining on patrol to this day.”
Private ceremonies were held around the country including one in the memorial gardens at the RAN’s principal training establishment, HMAS Cerberus. There, the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, unveiled a plaque to pay tribute to the AE1 crew members who perished.