PNG to work with Aust on sailors’ memorial

The PNG Foreign Affairs Minister has offered full cooperation to Australia in arranging a memorial for the sailors who perished in a submarine off the Duke of York group of islands, in East New Britain, during World War I.

In a February 1 meeting with his Australian counterpart, Minister Julie Bishop, Minister Rimbink Pato said Papua New Guinea fully respected the sacred nature of the last resting place of the young sailors, which was only recently discovered.

The submarine was Australia’s first submarine HMAS AE1. Its recovery puts an end to a 103-year maritime mystery.

According to Australia’s Navy Daily, the submarine went missing on the 14th of September 1914 with all personnel on board.

“The fate of 800 ton AE1 and her 35 crew members has remained one of the persistent mysteries of Australia’s military history.”  

An expedition to locate the submarine took place in waters off the coast of the Duke of York Island group in Papua New Guinea in December 2017.

The search vessel Fugro Equator located an object of interest in over 300 metres of water. Upon further inspection, it confirmed the object to be AE1.

The first images captured by the expedition show the vessel is remarkably well preserved and apparently in one piece.

Australian, British and New Zealand sailors in the submarine were among the first casualties of World War I.

Pato said PNG will listen carefully to how Australia and her allies want to commemorate the location of the ultimate sacrifice paid by their brave young men.

(Parts of the recovered submarine) 

Meredith Kuusa