The historically significant contents of the World War I Australian submarine HMAS AE2 are secured for the future with an Australian advanced composite ‘top hat’.
The submarine was the first to make its way through the Dardanelles’ minefields and forts as the ANZACs landed. Known today as the Silent ANZAC, it sits upright in 73 metres of water in the Sea of Marmara where it fell in battle on 30 April 1915.
In June this year, the submarine’s contents were viewed for the first time, when the hatch was opened by a multi-nation expert team led by the AE2 Commemorative Foundation.
The Foundation enlisted the support of Australian-based advanced composite manufacturer and composites specialist RPC Technologies to design and manufacture a ‘top hat’ in Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) to replicate the opened conning tower hatch and secure the sub’s contents.
John O’Brien, RPC’s Maritime Business Development Manager, coordinated the project. “The impressive strength-to-weight characteristics of composite materials made GRP a natural choice for the top hat. GRP also offered the lifelong corrosion resistance needed in an underwater environment as well the strength to properly secure the vessel from unauthorised entry,” said Mr O’Brien.
James Zegir, RPC’s Defence Technical Manager and designer of the top hat said: “Composite materials, like GRP, give us the ability to produce complex shapes to enable multiple components to be moulded into one part, which also helps to save on weight and reduce manufacturing costs”.
The Foundation said the project was an extraordinarily successful collaboration of experts, all volunteers, drawn from Australia, USA and Turkey, and acknowledged the generous support of RPC Technologies.
RPC’s Managing Director Tony Caristo said the company was fortunate to have some of the world’s leading composite engineers to draw upon when faced with such challenges.
The huge amount of footage obtained during the survey of the 100-year-old time capsule is being analysed by experts on the AE2CF team, the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Museum of Western Australia.