Rediscovery

HMAS AE2 remained undiscovered for 83 years. During that period, it has been claimed, its ‘daring feats and its influence on the course of the Gallipoli invasion … [were] largely forgotten’ (Brenchley F & E, 2003, Stoker’s Submarine, p. 1).

Rediscovery: 1998

The submerged AE2 was rediscovered by Mr Selçuk Kolay OAM, at the time the director of the Rahmi M Koç Museum in Istanbul. In 1994, Kolay had been approached by the Australian ambassador to Turkey with a request to conduct research into AE2. It took Kolay three and a half years of intensive search to locate and dive the wreck of AE2. He recalls that his work ‘… covered extensive archive studies, the acoustic and magnetic scanning of the related area which stretched over 35 square miles, interviews with the local trawlermen, interviews with the living relatives of Captain Stoker and his crew, studies in varying museums in different countries, doing some heavy detective work, fighting heavy seas and dangerous technical deep sea divings’ (Hurmuz Basarin, V & H 2008, Beneath the Dardanelles).

In June 1998, Kolay and his crew finally located the wreck of AE2. By July he had secured a line to the wreck and dived with a cameraman to take pictures. AE2 lay upright in the mud on the floor of the Sea of Marmara, its hatch ajar. One blade of the starboard propeller protruded above the mud. In its side were a number of irregularly shaped holes, probably caused by the attack of the Sultanhisar. The painted ‘AE2′ on the side of the submarine had faded and disappeared, and the vessel was coated with old fishing nets and heavily encrusted with barnacles and marine life. An Australian dive team led by Mark Spencer visited Turkey in October 1998 and confirmed the AE2’s identity.

Mark Spencer and Selçuk Kolay, 1998. Photo courtesy of Mark Spencer

Mark Spencer and Selçuk Kolay, 1998. Photo courtesy of Mark Spencer

Australian and Turkish cooperation

The AE2 Commemorative Foundation Ltd (AE2CF) was founded by the Submarine Institute of Australia (SIA) in 2006 to implement its Project AE2 strategy. From 2007 to the present, the AE2CF has conducted a number of expeditions and workshops in Turkey that have involved diving, photography, surveys, the development of a Maritime Archaeological Assessment (MAA) and discussion of how best to preserve the remains of AE2.

This ABC TV news report from 21 September 2007 includes pictures of the wreck of AE2, information about its discovery and subsequent diving expeditions and interviews:

Various parties have recorded aspects of expeditions in 1998 and 2007:

In 2008, an MAA expedition was organised by the AE2CF. A planning workshop between the AE2CF and TINA was held in 2008. The workshop discussed, among other things, issues relating to the preservation and protection of AE2.