LONDON — For more than a century, the fate of Australia’s first military submarine was one of the country’s enduring maritime mysteries.
The vessel, lost off Papua New Guinea in September 1914, barely seven months after being commissioned for service, disappeared with 35 crew members during operations to capture the German Pacific colonies in World War I.
Now the puzzle is solved.
The Australian Navy announced on Thursday the discovery of a wreck they identified as the submarine, the AE1. The discovery was made by a survey ship, the Fugro Equator, that was used in another seemingly impossible endeavor: the search for the remains of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
Images captured during the expedition suggested the submarine was well preserved and still in one piece.
Nobody knows what caused the AE1 to sink in 1914 — it had not been under attack at the time — though theories include an explosion of one of its torpedoes or a failure of a high-pressure air cylinder. It was one of the first Allied vessels to vanish in the war.
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