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Australian mystery solved: WWI-era submarine discovered after 103 years of searching

The HMAS AE1 disappeared from the New-Guinean island of New Britain on Sept. 14, 1914, with 35 members of the crew on board from Australia, New Zealand and great Britain.

(Australian Department of Defense via AP)

Australia’s first submarine was discovered after a 103 years of searching, the Royal Australian Navy announced on Thursday.

The HMAS AE1, a WWI-era submarine, disappeared on Sept. 14, 1914, with 35 members of the crew on board off the coast of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. The disappearance was one of the most persistent mysteries of Australia’s military history,” the navy stated.

The ship was found in the Navy the 13th search mission and was discovered off the coast of the Duke of York Islands in Papua New Guinea this week, the Navy said.

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“This is one of the most important discoveries in the australian navy maritime history, the” Defense Minister Marise Payne told the BBC.

“It was the first loss for the Royal Australian Navy and the first Allied submarine loss in the first world War; a major tragedy felt by our country and our allies,” Payne said.

The submarine has missed more than 103 years.

(Australian Department of Defense via AP)

The AE1 made last contact with an Australian ship at 2:30 p.m. the day is gone. Surprised villagers on a nearby island at the time spoke of seeing a “monster” or “devil fish” that appeared and disappeared in the water.

An underwater drone was deployed over 131 metres above the sea floor and discovered the ship in more than 984 feet below the surface.

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The Australian government said that it would contact the member of the crew of the family, to give them some closure. The members of the crew on board were from Australia, New Zealand and great Britain.

“I really believe that this will bring peace of mind to the family and descendants of the crew who lost their lives on board and maybe in time, we can discover what caused the submarine to sink,” Payne said.

The submarine was believed to have sank intact.

(Australian Department of Defense via AP)

The government also announced it would work with Papua New Guinea, “the preservation of the site.”

The nave of the location is not known. Officials were of the opinion that the ship sank intact after probably hitting a reef which punched a hole in the pressure hull.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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