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HMA Submarine AE2

Date: 1991
Dimensions:
Overall: 275 x 1130 mm, 19.4 kg
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Models
Object Name: Ship model
Object No: 00015634
Related Place:Soul,

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    Description
    A 1:48 scale model of HMA Submarine AE2 made in Seoul, South Korea in 1991.
    SignificanceThis model represents the E class submarines of World War I and the significant role they played in the early years of the Royal Australian Navy.
    HistoryHMAS AE2 was an E class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was one of two submarines - the other being AE1 - ordered by the Australian government in 1911. She was commissioned at Portsmouth in February 1914 and scuttled by her crew 15 months later; after being hit by enemy shellfire while attacking Turkish ships in the Sea of Marmara.

    AE2 was laid down on 10 February 1912 at Vickers Armstrong yard at Barrow-in-Furness, England and launched on 18 June 1913. She was commissioned into the RAN at Portsmouth on 28 February 1914 under command of Lieutenant Commander Henry H.G.D. Stoker, RN. Accompanied by AE1, her sister boat (as submarines affectionately came to be referred to by submariners) AE2 reached Sydney on 24 May 1914, manned by Royal Navy (RN) officers, with a mixed crew of RN and RAN sailors.

    Upon the outbreak of World War I, both submarines mobilised in September 1914 as part of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) sent to secure German New Guinea and other German possessions in the Pacific. With German surrender successfully achieved within a matter of weeks, AE2 returned to Sydney via Suva, and went on to Albany in Western Australia. By this time AE1 had been lost while on patrol with HMAS YARRA on 14 September 1914; with all hands, under unknown circumstances, which have not been explained to this day.

    On 31 December 1914, AE2 was towed from Albany by SS BERRIMA as part of a troop convoy across the Indian Ocean, arriving at Port Said on 28 January 1915. AE2 then received orders to join the RN’s 2nd Submarine Flotilla based at the island of Tenedos.

    As part of the naval operations during the Dardanelles/Gallipoli Campaign, AE2 made her first offensive foray into the Dardanelles on 24 April, penetrating nearly six nautical miles (11 km) before being forced back with mechanical problems.

    At 2.30am on 25 April 1915, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Stoker, AE2 again attempted to get through the strait. At approximately 4.30am, Stoker dived the boat in response to fire from Turkish gun crews that had spotted her. By 6am, AE2 had reached Chanak, at the narrowest part of the strait, and then fired a torpedo at the Turkish gunboat PEYK I SEVKET, while simultaneously taking evasive action to avoid an enemy destroyer. During this action, the boat ran aground directly under one of the Turkish forts; fortunately the fort was unable to lower its guns far enough to hit the AE2. After four minutes in an exposed position on the bank, AE2 slid back into deeper water.

    Shortly after grounding a second time, AE2's periscope was sighted by a Turkish battleship firing over the peninsular at British positions on Cape Hellas, causing it to cease shelling, withdraw and relocate to a safer position. AE2 continued to advance toward the Sea of Marmara. At 8.30am Stoker decided to rest the boat on the sea-floor during daytime, waiting for nightfall. Upon surfacing during the night, he sighted no enemy craft and again ventured into the Sea of Marmara, becoming the first Allied submarine to breach Turkish defences in the Dardanelles.

    Stoker signalled his success to his HQ, where discussions were being held about the possibility of retreat by re-embarking the land force, which had encountered unanticipated difficulties immediately after the Gallipoli landings, but the news of AE2’s success changed attitudes to the extent that talk of withdrawal ceased. The news was spread among ANZAC troops to give them heart, while Stoker received orders to attack as he saw fit. Stoker's tactics were to give the impression that several submarines were in the area. However, due to mechanical problems, and in spite of several attacks, AE2 managed no hits on Turkish vessels.

    On 30 April, mechanical problems caused AE2 to rise to the surface; surfacing about 1 mile (1.8 km) from the torpedo boat SULTANHISAR. In an attempt to avoid the Turkish torpedo boat, AE2 dived below her safe diving depth; frantic and hasty attempts to correct this caused the submarine's stern to break the surface, which was immediately fired on again by the SULTANHISAR. Stoker ordered his crew to abandon ship. All 35 members of the crew survived the action, although three men died during the three and a half years they subsequently spent as prisoners of war in Turkey.

    The wreck was located in 1998 at a depth of 72m by an Australian-Turkish team.

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