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The AE2 Submarine is a largely forgotten hero of the legendary Dardanelles/Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War.

Bow of AE2 Submarine - click for larger imageIn 1997 and 1998, an Australian team led by Mark Spencer visited Turkey 's Sea of Marmara twice to verify the identity of the AE2 submarine.

In 1997, what was thought to be the AE2 turned out to be an old steam ship in 86 metres of water, perhaps itself a victim of Allied submarine activity. Continuing his search, in 1998 Turkish wreck diver and then director of the Rahmi Koc Cultural Foundation, Selçuk Kolay, was successful in locating the famous Australian submarine in 72 metres of water. Hatch of AE2 Submarine -- click for larger image

Mark gratefully acknowledges the following persons, businesses or organisations that contributed to the expenses and/or logistics of Project AE2 (1997 and/or 1998). Without their contribution, this important icon of our heritage would probably remain unknown to the vast majority of Australians:

The Royal Australian Navy, the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop MP (then Minister for Defence, Science and Personnel), Channel 9 television, The Australian Women's Weekly , The Rahmi Koc Group (Turkey), Thomson Marconi Sonar, Sonartech-Atlas, Turkish Airlines, Stern of AE2 Submarine - click for larger imageSingapore Airlines, Compaq Computer Australia, Boeing Australia, Telstra, Newsnet (faxing and distribution of information to media), Pro-Diving Services, NSW Heritage Office, Extreme Clothing and Leisure Ware, Abysmal Diving Inc (computer dive-planning program), Technical Diving International (Australia and New Zealand), Maxwell Optical Industries (Coolpix 900 digital camera for website updates), Vision Graphics Pty Ltd (film processing), Comprehensive Holiday Insurance (CHI), Apollo Australia Pty Ltd (continued dive equipment support), Sea Hornet (underwater signalling devices), and Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd.

AE2 Submarine to be revisited in September, 2007!

In September, 2007, a further joint Turkish-Australian expedition to the Sea of Marmara will undertake a more detailed and comprehensive archaeological investigation of the AE2 submarine as well as further stills and video documentation.

This big project is mostly funded by the Australian Government, but corporate and private sponsors are being sought to assist the shortfall of funding.

The expedition (and ongoing matters relating to the future of the AE2) is being managed by the AE2 Commemorative Foundation Ltd, established by the Submarine Institute of Australia Inc ( www. submarineinstitute .com ) in collaboration with the Turkish Institute for Nautical Archaeology (TINA).

This new expedition is a much bigger operation than the previous 1997/98 expeditions and will comprise a team of 11 divers plus ancillary and support personnel. Two major differences between the 1998 expedition and the 2007 will be the use of new diving and camera technology, closed-circuit rebreathers (CCR's) with communications to allow the divers longer working time on the bottom and safer diving generally (especially with decompression on ascent), and the use of digital camera technology to allow instant review of results and better control of exposure, latitude and picture clarity.

Important Components of 2007 AE2 Submarine Expedition:

•  The Maritime Archaeological Assessment (MAA) of AE2 Submarine

Maritime Archaeologist Tim Smith (who accompanied the divers on the 1997/98 trips and wrote the official reports) is again director in charge of the more detailed archaeological examinations of the submarine. The main aim is to assess the condition of the wreck to allow intelligent and informed decisions to be made regarding the future management of the wreck and the site generally. Options for future management range from leaving it on the seafloor as it is (but protected from trawler and shipping activity and slowing the rate of corrosion) to recovering the submarine and ultimately displaying the submarine in a wet or dry environment. The latter option is ambitious and probably untenable due to technical and financial considerations, but is nevertheless an option amongst a range of options that will be considered.

The scientific testing of the site includes corrosion testing, plate thickness measurement using ultra-sonic instruments, substrate (sediment) sampling, measurement surveys, biological sampling, remote sonar surveying of the immediate seafloor topography, sub-bottom profiling, remote operated vehicle (ROV) usage around and possibly inside the wreck, and the insertion of a drop camera inside the working space of the submarine via the access hatch in the conning tower.

Dr Ian MacLeod, internationally-respected metallurgist and corrosion scientist from the Western Australian Maritime Museum , will accompany the expedition and assist with the scientific examination of the wreck and analysis of results. Dr Roger Neill, chief scientist with the Defence, Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in Melbourne , will accompany colleagues from the DSTO responsible for the operation of ROVs and drop cameras. SonarTech Atlas (a supplier of sonar equipment to the defence and commerce industries) plan to use their sophisticated equipment to image the wreck and surrounding seascape with state-of-the-art sonar technology.

•  The detailed documentation of AE2 Submarine and the expedition.

Further stills photography will be performed by Mark Spencer with assistance by fellow photographer Craig Howell from Victoria . The challenges met by Mark in the 1998 expedition in photographing the wreck will hopefully be met with some fresh new techniques and approaches, as well as the employment of the Nikon D200 digital camera housed in a Seacam alloy housing.

The expedition has chosen Electric Pictures ( ) from Western Australia as their official documentary producer. Electric Pictures (EP) has collaborated with Mallison-Sadler Productions (Crispin Sadler and Andrew Solomon) from the UK as co-producers, who will contribute their considerable experience in the production of underwater shipwreck documentaries. British technical diver Dan Stevenson will be their underwater cameraman. EP/MS are planning a one-hour (possibly 90 min) documentary for TV broadcast in Australia and world-wide networks.

•  The Diving.

All divers will use closed-circuit rebreathers (CCR's) while surveying and working on the wreck. This technology was chosen over surface-supply delivery of breathing gas for the freedom it provides cameramen in the documentation of the site, and the maneuverability allowed to divers on the bottom carrying out the tasks they will be assigned.

All divers will use a modified form of full face mask (half mask over the eyes and nose with a separate mouth 'pod') with communications between divers and the surface. The surface vessel will be equipped with a twin-lock recompression chamber. A hyperbaric physician and chamber technician will be on-site throughout the exercise. Richard Taylor (Director of TDI/SDI Australia ) is Director of Diving Operations and Diving Supervisor. Richard carried out the same task in the 1997/98 expedition. All diving operations will comply with (Australian Standards) AS 2299.3 (2003) Occupational Diving Operation - Recreational Industry Diving and Snorkeling Operations.

Reference material on AE2 Submarine

The following magazines, journals or books have information on the AE2 and/or Mark's AE2 Expeditions:

Straws in the Wind. by Commander H.G. Stoker. 1925. Publisher: Herbert Jenkins. Personal account by the commander of the AE2 of his exploits during his command of the AE2. Also includes a good insight into his personality and life philosophy. An excellent read.

Stoker's Submarine. by Fred & Elizabeth Brenchley. 2001. Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers ( Australia ) Pty Ltd. Tells the story of Stoker's military achievements. Also an excellence resource for information on other crew on the AE2 besides Captain Stoker.

Project AE2 - The Search for HMA Submarine AE2 - Investigation of a shipwreck in Turkey - October, 1997. The official report of Project AE2's 1997 expedition. Author Tim Smith , Maritime Archeologist and Project AE2 member, NSW Heritage Office. Contact at the NSW Heritage office for a copy of this document.

Project AE2 - Investigation of the HMA AE2 submarine wreck site - Turkey , October, 1998. The official report of Project AE2's 1998 expedition. Author Tim Smith , maritime archaeologist, NSW Heritage Office. Contact Tim Smith at the NSW Heritage office for a copy of this document.

Exploring the Australian WW1 Submarine AE2. Journal of the Australian Naval Institute, Vol 26, No.1: 27-29, Jan-March, 2000. Author Mark Spencer. A personal account of the experience and practicalities of diving on AE2.

AE2 - Unsung Hero of Gallipoli. Australian Warship Review. Vol.3: 5-12, April-June, 1999. Author Mark Spencer. A full account of the expeditions, AE2's discovery and issues needed to be addressed.

First Through: The Epic Voyage of AE2. Wartime (the official magazine of the Australian War Memorial). Vol 6: 3-12, Winter, 1999. Author Richard Pelvin. An excellent historical account with archive photos and illustrations.

The Search for AE2. Wartime. Wartime (the official magazine of the Australian War Memorial). Vol 6: 13-15, Winter, 1999. Author Mark Spencer. A summary of the expeditions and issues pertaining to AE2's discovery.

Gallipoli's Naval Secret - The Search for the AE2. The Sydney Papers. Vol.11, No.1, Summer, 1999. A transcript of an address by Mark Spencer to the Sydney Institute.

The Discovery of the AE2 - A WW1 Submarine. Skylife (the In-flight magazine of Turkish Airlines. Written in Turkish and English). Issue 4, 1999, 26-34. Author Mark Spencer. A good summary of the discovery of AE2 and the Australian/Turkish cooperation in verifying its identity.

Australian History in a Turkish Sea . Scuba Diver Magazine. Jan-Feb, 1999: 62-63. Author Bill Sellars, an Australian journalist living and working in Istanbul , offers some interesting thoughts on the degree of influence - if any - AE2 had on the decision to maintain troops at Gallipoli.

The Unsung Heroine. Sportdiving Magazine. No. 74, June-July, 1999, 76-81. Author Mark Spencer. An overview of the expeditions and the history and significance of AE2.

The Legacy of AE2. The Shores of Gallipoli - Naval Aspects of the Anzac Campaign.
Pages 211-219. Book author Tom Frame. Publishers Hale & Iremonger Pty Ltd. Published 2000. A good historical account of the exploits of AE2 and the significance of its discovery.

Australian Submarines - A History. (book) by Michael White. Australian Government Publishing Service. Published 1992. Written before AE2's discovery but a good reference book for background information on AE2.

AE2: Subsunk - Subfound.
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Dec 1998 Page 89
Author Dr Don Walsh. Dr Walsh, capt USN Ret. is a oceanographer and stil holds the record with Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard for reaching the oceans deepest depth of 11.5 kms (seven miles or 37,800 feet) in the Marianas Trench aboard the bathyscaph Trieste .