Australian Sub 'on Eternal Patrol Since 1914' Is Found

HMAS AE-1 found off Papua New Guinea's Duke of York Islands
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2017 7:09 AM CST
Fish swim around the helm of the Australian submarine HMAS AE1 off the coast of the Papua New Guinea island of New Britain.   (Australian Department of Defense via AP)
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(Newser) – Thirteenth time's the charm. The first Allied submarine lost in World War I, and Australia's first sub lost ever, has finally been found on the 13th search mission for a vessel that vanished more than a century ago. The HMAS AE-1 was spotted by an underwater drone in almost 1,000 feet of water near Papua New Guinea's Duke of York Islands during a search effort that began last week, report the BBC and Sydney Morning Herald. It was the first time the sub had been spotted since disappearing off Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, while carrying 35 crew members from Australia, New Zealand, and Britain on Sept. 14, 1914—roughly six weeks after the war broke out. There was no distress call, but its final communication put the sub in the general area in which it was found, the same area islanders had reported a "monster" appearing and then disappearing beneath the water.

"The boat and her crew, who've been on eternal patrol since 1914 … have now been found," Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne announced Thursday, per ABC Australia, calling it "one of the most significant discoveries in Australia's naval maritime history" and one that "will bring peace of mind to the family and descendants of the crew who lost their lives on board." The search team held a short service to commemorate the crew members. The governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea will now preserve the site, reports Reuters. Meanwhile, officials will try to determine why the 180-foot-long sub sank, apparently in one piece. The leading theory is that its pressure hull was punctured by a reef, as a small German survey ship was the only enemy vessel in the area at the time. (A World War I U-boat was just found.)

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