It was both an exciting and somber occasion today when The Australian War Memorial announced the discovery of a lost ship. Some closure will final come to the families of Australian Navy Submarine HMAS AE1 which was finally found after 103 years.

In a statement released earlier today, The Australian War Memorial congratulated the Royal Australian Navy on this historic find. The success of the search was made possible through partnerships with the Australian Government, the Submarine Institute of Australia, Silentworld Foundation, Fugro, the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Papua New Guinea Government.

While celebrating the find, Dr. Brendan Nelson the Memorial Director, confirmed that this is also a somber occasion which will allow the death of the men on the submarine to be properly mourned.

Lost with all hands

It was 1914 when the AE1 submarine went missing with 35 crew members on board. The loss of the submarine was the first Australian loss in World War I.

The loss of the AE1 happened only six weeks after the start of the war while they were out on patrol near Rabaul island. A search for the missing sub had to be abandoned because Australian units were needed elsewhere.

Searches were conducted in the late '70s and '80s spearheaded by the Australian Navy commander John Foster who died in 2010 without seeing me the success of this endeavor.

The fact that it took so long to find the submarine is not surprising though. When a submarine disappears it can go anywhere. Deepwater and large areas to cover mean a long and large search area.

Found nearly 1000 feet down

It wasn’t until the Fugro Equator came upon an "object of interest" 300m (approx. 985 feet) below the surface. It was then that they realize they had discovered the AE1.

President Marc Sander of the Submarine Institute of Australia commented that it would be fitting if a special ceremony could be held in the future to recognize those on board. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and should be remembered.

While the cause of HMAS AE1’s loss has not yet been determined the investigation is ongoing. It has been confirmed that the wreck appears to have been remarkably well preserved. The condition of the vessel leaves experts hopeful that a study of the hull will return some answers.

An impromptu service was held aboard the survey ship which found the submarine, commemorating the men who lost their lives.

Efforts to find any descendants of the submariners are going on.