Buoy marks resting place of submarine AE2.
James Glenday/ABC online
22 April 2015
A commemorative service has been held on board HMAS Anzac in Turkey to honour Australia's first wartime submarine AE2, damaged and then scuttled in the Sea of Marmara during the Gallipoli campaign.The AE2, or 'Silent Anzac', was the first Allied vessel to penetrate the mine-filled Dardanelles, the narrow strait separating Gallipoli from the mainland of Asia.
The crew of the AE2 succeeded where others had failed.
By creating a diversion, the 700-tonne submarine drew enemy fire away from troops landing at Gallipoli, saving many lives.
The vessel with 32 crewmen on board ran amok for five days before being damaged by Turkish fire.
No-one died on board, though four men perished later as prisoners of war.
Since 1915, the AE2 has lain 73 metres below the water's surface, on a dark and silty sea floor in dangerous currents.
Chief of Navy Tim Barrett and his Turkish counterpart tossed a wreath into the water near the wreck as part of the first commemorative service dedicated to the AE2.
Vice Admiral Barrett described the AE2 mission as one of the success stories in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign.
"I don't think there's enough known about AE2," he said.
"It's the role that it played in the whole campaign.
"The fact that we now find ourselves here a hundred years after being foes, now being here as friends, I think is quite important."
Gib Fitzgibbon, a descendant of the submarine's captain, said he was pleased the AE2 was being officially recognised.
"It's a very welcoming celebration. It closes the chapter," he said.
HMAS Anzac commander Belinda Wood said she was moved by the service.
Photo: Last year, a team of Australian and Turkish engineers, scientists and divers captured underwater vision from inside the AE2. (Supplied: markspencer.com.au)
"A little bit emotional, obviously the navigator had brought the ship quite close to the position where the submarine went down," she said.
"You'd not be human if you didn't feel some emotion over what happened this morning."
Military historians have long been worried the wreck could be destroyed by trawlers or anchors in the busy Dardanelles waterway.
Thanks to several years of campaigning, a new buoy marks the wreck site.
Retired Rear Admiral Peter Briggs from the AE2 Commemorative Foundation said he was delighted to see the AE2 being honoured.
"If the [protection] system is maintained, and the Maritime Museum is there to see that it is, in another 100 years we will still be able to celebrate the story of AE2," he said.
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