First Australian submarine found off Papua New Guinea coast after 103 years

In this undated image provided by the Australian Department of Defense survey data forms the image of the Australian submarine HMAS AE1 off the coast of the Papua New Guinea island of New Britain. One of Australia's oldest naval mysteries has been

The submarine was believed to have sank intact

An undated image of Australian submarine AE1 that vanished on September 14, 1914. But as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, it seems the 13th time's the charm. The team of maritime surveyors, marine archaeologists and naval historians scoured the search area with a multi-beam echo sounder and side-scan technology in an underwater drone flying 40 metres above the sea bed on pre-programmed 20 hour missions. Incredibly, the latest search for the missing vessel started only last week.

Wreckage of the submarine HMAS AE1 which was located in waters off the Duke of York Island group in Papua New Guinea is seen on a supplied photo released on December 21, 2017.

While searching for the submarine near Papua New Guinea this week, the search vessel Fugro Equator spotted an object almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) underwater.

"It was the first loss for the RAN and the first Allied submarine loss in World War I - a significant tragedy felt by our nation and our allies", Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Thursday.

The search party was jointly funded by the Australian Government, the Silentworld Foundation, The Australian National Maritime Museum and Find AE1 Ltd. "It was the first loss for the Royal Australian Navy and the first Allied submarine loss in World War I". The 54.86m-long (55 meters) sub was found resting under almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) of water. Further examination revealed that it was AE1. According to the Australian Navy, these subs could plunge to a depth of 100 feet (30.5 meters) and travel at maximum speed of 17 miles per hour (28 km/h).

It had always been assumed the AE1 was not a victim of enemy action, since the only German vessel nearby at the time was a small survey ship.

Images captured during the expedition suggested the submarine was well preserved and still in one piece. "The submarine appears to have struck the bottom with sufficient force to dislodge the fin from its footing, forcing it to hinge forward on its leading edge, impacting the casing", said retired rear admiral Peter Briggs, who was part of the search.

Payne said the government was working with their PNG counterparts to preserve the site and arrange for a commemoration of the sub and its crew.

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