Geraldton Museum to display AE1 Revealed exhibition showing loss and discovery of submarine

Headshot of Reuben Carder
Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
Flags at the wreck site commemorating the lost crew of the HMAS AE1.
Camera IconFlags at the wreck site commemorating the lost crew of the HMAS AE1. Credit: Paul G. Allen

From the Batavia shipwreck to the HMAS Sydney II memorial, Geraldton has had a colourful and sometimes tragic seafaring past.

More maritime history will be on display this week when the HMAS AE1 Revealed exhibition opens at the Museum of Geraldton on February 12.

The exhibition features images and a 3D printed model of the HMAS AE1 submarine, which sank at the start of World War I and was not recovered until more than 100 years later.

It is on loan from Curtin University and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

“Surprisingly, after more than 100 years on the sea floor HMAS AE1 is still recognisable as a submarine,” Curtin association professor Andrew Woods said.

“It is remarkably intact. It is an incredibly powerful experience.”

The exhibit tells the story of how the submarine sank in September 1914 as well its discovery.

It left port to patrol for German warships, and was declared missing when it did not return.

The sinking of the vessel cost 35 crew and officers their lives.

A team including researchers from Find AE1 Ltd, a company set up to search for the sub, the maritime history organisation Silentworld Foundation, the Australian National Maritime Museum, and the Royal Australian Navy found it off the Papua New Guinea coast in 2017.

The museum’s regional manager, Leigh O’Brien, said the exhibit has ties to permanent displays as some of the camera equipment used in the investigation were also used on the 2015 expedition to the wreck sites of HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran.

HMAS AE1 Revealed is a free exhibition which will run until May 1.

Museum entry is by donation. More information can be found at https://visit.museum.wa.gov.au/geraldton.

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