The AE2 Commemorative Foundation Ltd (AE2CF) was formed in 2006 to undertake what became Project Silent Anzac, which aimed to protect, preserve and tell the story of HMAS AE2. These aims were successfully completed in 2015, the centenary of AE2’s loss. Accordingly, the company was wound up on 30 June 2015.
With essentially the same board and project team, the same company structure was utilised to form Find AE1 Ltd – with the single aim to search for and find AE1 – lost without trace on 14 September 1914. The work of this team culminated on 20 December 2017 when HMAS AE1 was found. This company therefore was wound up on 30 June 2018 – mission accomplished.
Subsequently the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) requested the principals of the AE2CF and Find AE1 projects form a new company to deliver further projects relevant to both AE1 and AE2. The company was duly formed and named the Australian E-Class Submarine Foundation Ltd (AESMF) with aims including:
- Scope a project to renew the anodes originally fitted to AE2 during Maritime Archaeological Assessment (MAA) 2014 and to undertake an external video and stills survey.
- Work with the Australian and PNG government agencies to reach agreement on protection of the AE1 wreck site.
- Draft a Wreck Site Management Plan for AE1.
- Install an Instrumentation Package to collect twelve months of oceanographic data from the AE1 wreck site, and
- Install supplementary plaques to update the AE1 plaques, including those at Garden Island (Sydney) and Bita Paka, recording the discovery of the submarine in December 2017.
The plaques are at:
- The RAN Historical Centre, Garden Island in Sydney at Fleet Base East
- The Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Bita Paka in Papua New Guinea
- HMAS Cerberus at Crib Point in Victoria
- Barrow in Furness in the United Kingdom (completed in September 2019 with the help of Barrow in Furness branch of the Submarines Association)
- The RN Submarine Museum at Fort Blockhouse in Gosport in Hampshire in the UK
- The Garden Island Naval Chapel in Sydney
- Various RN Memorials in the UK – notably at Plymouth, the Embankment in London and elsewhere
AE2 anode replacement & survey: The geopolitical scene in Turkey together with a lack of enthusiasm amongst relevant government authorities to back another ‘look’ at AE2 spelt the end of the anode replacement project. The external video and stills survey could yet proceed given the availability of a suitable vessel such as occurred in the case of AE1 when the late renown philanthropist Paul Allen provided his highly capable vessel RV Petrel, to film and photograph AE1 in February 2018.
Protection of the site: AESMF is happy to advise that efforts to protect the site have borne fruit; an announcement of a jointly agreed PNG/Australia exclusion zone over the site is anticipated shortly.
Wreck Management Plan: Work on this plan is expected to be completed by 30 June 2020.
Instrumentation Project: Efforts to finalise planning for this were frustrated by unforeseen factors including a severe weather event in the subject area. Eventually an estimate (circa $200k) was obtained though after considering the utility of the data to be gathered together with the estimated costs and risks involved, the AESMF Board decided not to proceed with this project.
The AESMF is involved in several other AE1 projects:
- A supporting objective to establish ‘trip wire’ arrangement with the Mioko Islanders to report any interference with the site, which remains outstanding.
- Possible recovery of a ‘touchstone’ object from AE1 for use in a national submariner memorial
- Collecting the handed down, anecdotal accounts of sightings of AE1 by the Mioko Islanders, and
- Installation of a commemorative plaque on Mioko Island overlooking the site. The AESMF is working with Dr Ross Bastiaan ED AM, the designer and sculptor of the existing AE1 and AE2 plaques to prepare a proposal for approval by Australian and PNG authorities.
The AESMF Ltd Board:
- Rear Admiral Peter Briggs AO CSC RAN Rtd (Chairman)
- Mr Trevor Lloyd
- Commodore Terence Roach AM, RAN Rtd
- Mr Paul Wetherill
- Captain Ken Greig OAM, RAN Rtd (Company Secretary)
- Mr John Gilbert
- Mr Peter Graham
- Mr Ted Graham AM
- Dr James Hunter
- Dr Ian MacLeod AM
- Dr Michael McCarthy
- Mr Gus Mellon
- Dr Roger Neill
- Commander David Nichols RAN Rtd
- Commodore Kim Pitt AM, RAN Rtd
- Mr Martin Rowan
- Mr Tim Smith OAM
- Captain Roger Turner RN
- Dr John White
- Dr Michael White OAM, QC