Historical information

The Australian Submarine AE1 was launched on 22 May 1913 at Barrow-in-Furness and was lost at sea on 14 September 1914 in the vicinity of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, probably due a collision with a reef.

She was the first of two E Class submarines built for the fledgling Royal Australian Navy and was manned by Royal Navy officers with a mixed crew of sailors drawn from the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

"Accompanied by her sister AE2, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Henry Stoker, RN, AE1 departed England in March 1914, transited the Suez Canal, and reached Sydney on 24 May 1914. Although the submarines remained surfaced for almost all of the delivery voyage it was at the time the longest transit distance ever traveled by a submarine.

At the outbreak of World War I, AE1 joined the naval forces assigned to the capture of the German Pacific colonies. With AE2, she took part in the operations leading to the occupation of German New Guinea, including the surrender of Rabaul on 13 September 1914." (Australian Navy website)


The second Australian submarine AE2 launched in February 1914 was also ill-fated as it was sunk by the Turkish army in 1915.

In December 2017, a search located the wreck of AE1 in 300 metres of water off the Duke of York Island group.

Physical description

Sepia photograph depicting the public attending the ceremony of Trafalgar Day in London on the 21 October 1914 when wreathes were left at the bottom of Nelson's column. A sign in the centre of the photograph says: HM Submarine AE1.

Inscriptions & markings

At the back: in pencil 20c/London 1914
In pen: Trafalgar Day, the wreaths of the Australian submarine EA1 (error was the submarine was called AE1)