back to article First Allied submarine lost in World War One, found near New Guinea

After years of searching, the wreck of World War I submarine AE1 has been found in waters off New Guinea. AE1 has several historical distinctions: it was Australia's first submarine, and it was the country's first submarine to be lost in war – and it was also the first Allied submarine lost in the war. The submarine was built …

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Pint

Well done. I raise a glass in a silent salute to those who died and to those who found her.

Lest we forget.

Hopefully people will respect this war grave and preserve the dignity of those who perished.

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Re: Lest we forget.

They haven't published the exact location to make it more difficult for people who'd turn up and salvage the wreck for scrap, and to hell with the fact that it's a war grave because there's money to be made.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2168646/how-does-entire-shipwreck-disappear-bolts-and-all

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Re: Lest we forget.

Vessels sunk before 1945 are particularly valuable, since there is no fallout from nuclear bombs in their steel, so they can be used for shielding radiation detectors.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-background_steel

Lead is slightly different - an ingot's natural radioactivity will have decayed to insignificant levels since Roman times.

https://www.nature.com/news/2010/100415/full/news.2010.186.html

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Pirate

Re: Lest we forget.

Aren't there just dilapidated old bridges/factories/skyscrapers we can get our precious low-background steel from? For example, here in the SF Bay Area, they have replaced half of the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland, which was built in the 1930s. The old eastern span cantilever bridge is mostly torn down now.

Where is all that steel going? It has to be at least 5,000 or 10,000 tons of steel made in the 1930s, and not corroded because its been sitting at the bottom of the sea for 75 years.

Shouldn't we be using these resources rather than blowing apart shipwrecks that hundreds of people died on, and then using a claw to pull the scraps up off the bottom of the sea?

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Re: Lest we forget.

Aren't there just dilapidated old bridges/factories/skyscrapers we can get our precious low-background steel from?

Short answer... no as the steel is contaminated. Apparently (I'm not sure why) even "new" steel is contaminated.

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Re: Lest we forget.

Well, new steel is contaminated because you have to force in a lot of air (bearing radioactive particles from all those open atmosphere nuclear tests from the 40s to the 60s) to properly smelt the steel.

But it seems to me that structural steel made before the atomic/nuclear tests would be just as good.

Re: Lest we forget.

"Where is all that steel going? It has to be at least 5,000 or 10,000 tons of steel made in the 1930s, and not corroded because its been sitting at the bottom of the sea for 75 years."

Sold? Steel is a commodity, so there is always a market for it. Yes, low-background steel fetches a higher price, but any type of steel is worth a significant amount of money.

A lot of WW2 wrecks are simply missing. Like they weren't even there. Others are missing sections that used to be there.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/16/asia/indonesia-ww2-ship-wrecks-disappear/index.html

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Devil

Re: Lest we forget.

well it's apparently at ~300m and that depth requires some very special+expensive gear, trained people, etc..

And the crew is "On Eternal Patrol"

(as for history it might be interesting if the people who found it can also determine how it sank, whether enemy attack or equipment malfunction)

Re: Lest we forget.

Short answer... no as the steel is contaminated. Apparently (I'm not sure why) even "new" steel is contaminated.

It's due to the production methods. Basically blowing huge amounts of air through the molten steel. "Modern" air contains radioactive contaminants thanks to all the nuclear testing in the 1940s and 1950s.

Any steel which was made before that is low-background. Anything after, sorry, no good.

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E11

It's Christmas and work is quieting down, so for a true "Boy's Own" story of one of AE1's sister boats, on which one of my distant cousins was the navigator, read about the E11's adventures in the Sea of Marmara.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_E11

http://www.submarine-museum.co.uk/component/content/article/116-nasmith-vc

A VC for Captain Naismith, and DSCs and DSMs for the crew.

MH370

103 years, that doesn't bode well for locating flight MH370 then I guess :(

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Re: MH370

Fortunately for MH370, the starting point of the tech is much higher in 2017 than it was in 1914. With us hopefully avoiding two world wars worth of interruption to the process, I would hope we would have the technology and will to find MH370, should it want to be found, significantly prior to 2130.

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Re: MH370

Apples and watermelons, no comparison. The submarine is several hundred tons of steel, mostly intact on the seafloor. At 55 meters long, it's a relatively large target.

MH370 was lightly-built of mostly aluminum. It most likely shattered into thousands of pieces on impact with the water. The biggest chunk you may find might be an engine, which is vastly smaller than that sub wreck. It's a needle in a hayfield, and with the best of will and technology we may never find MH370's wreck.

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Re: MH370

And the water where this sub was found is fairly certain to be much shallower than wherever MH370 is. And the geographic area where MH370 could be is vastly greater.

I suspect that they will find MH 370 some time in the distant future, on some oceanographic expedition, for now it is entirely lost.

Re: MH370

"Apples and watermelons, no comparison. The submarine is several hundred tons of steel, mostly intact on the seafloor. At 55 meters long, it's a relatively large target. MH370 was lightly-built of mostly aluminum"

The AE1 had a top speed of 15 knots, so the search radius from point of disappearance is pretty small. A Boeing 777 has a cruise speed of 481 knots. Plus, those aboard the MH370 disabled its transponder, and it was traveling in area beyond national radar systems, so the search radius is enormous. Plus, the intentions of those crewing the MH370 is unknown. But the AE1 was part of a fleet, with known orders, and likely a rally point if the fleet became separated.

Anyways, bits of the MH370 have been washing up along various coasts in the Indian ocean, so technically it has been "found", although the main wreckage (engines and heavier items) have not been. It is just a matter of time before someone finds a pair of badly damaged 777 engines on the ocean floor. I think it will be less than a 100 years.

Pint

Re: MH370

Well, the Fugro Equator who found the sub was also involved in the search for MH370, so who knows...

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Cyril L. Baker

was the telegraphist aboard the AE1. Future marine archeologists can marvel at the early 20th century hardware as we do at the Antikythera mechanism.

Pint

Re: Cyril L. Baker

"In 1914 the sea-going equipment was still simple, but the system was practical, reliable, trusted and would soon be battle tested. Most of the equipment was still based around spark transmitters and crystal sets using the Low frequency and Medium frequency bands, but the Royal Navy already had 15 years experience and had developed tactics and operations based around it use."

Quote from

http://marconiheritage.org/ww1-sea.html

Spark transmitter = pulse of em energy with a wide frequency spread & so hard to coordinate among a fleet of ships (basically turns taking) or did they have tuned circuits in the antenna to filter out some of the energy? Raining tomorrow so I'll be researching.

Great job for these guys finding this very old sub.

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