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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Anna Bligh


    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Sunday, December 20, 2009


    Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh today announced that the wreck of the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur had been located off the Queensland coast.

    The AHS Centaur was sunk without warning by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine on 14 May 1943, about 50 miles east north-east of Brisbane. Of the 332 persons on board, only 64 survived.

    The Director of the Search for the Centaur, David L Mearns, this morning advised that the location of the Centaur wreck has been confirmed.

    The search crew has under-taken five high-resolution sonar tracklines over the target site, and is now conducting a further run to obtain a clearer picture of the wreck.

    The Acting Prime Minister, Julia Gillard congratulated the search team and thanked all those who had contributed to the find over many years.

    “The discovery of the AHS Centaur will ensure all Australians know and commemorate the 268 brave nurses and crew who died in the service of their nation.”

    “I hope by locating the final resting place of the AHS Centaur, the family and friends of those men and women who were tragically lost find some resolution.”

    Premier Bligh said representatives of the Centaur Association, Centaur Nurses Association, the RSL and the families and friends of those lost in AHS Centaur would be pleased to learn about the discovery after so many years of uncertainty.

    “It is timely to take a moment to remember those lives lost on that tragic day in 1943, and the devastating effect this has had on their families,” Ms Bligh said.

    “This morning’s confirmation that the wreck has been found will hopefully provide some peace to the loved ones of those killed.

    “We will now use this momentum to finish this task and film the wreck site. In early January, a remotely operated submersible vehicle equipped with a high-definition camera will collect high quality imagery of the wreck and the surrounding area.”

    David Mearns, the principal of Bluewater Recoveries, guided the search on board the Defence Maritime Services support vessel Seahorse Spirit.

    The vessel carries deep-sea side-scan sonar equipment and a remotely operated submersible vehicle capable of being operated at depths below 3,000 metres.

    Mr Mearns said the wreck location is approximately 30 miles due east of the southern tip of Moreton Island (27 deg 16.98’ South, 153 deg 59.22’ East) at a depth of 2,059 metres.

    The Australian and Queensland governments jointly committed $4 million to the search and officers from the Department of Defence and the Department of Premier and Cabinet provided oversight and technical assistance to the project.

    More information about the search for the AHS Centaur can be found online at:

    20 DECEMBER 2009

    ACTING PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE: Kimberley Gardiner 0434 159 842
    PREMIER’S OFFICE: Nicola Hazell 0408 732 491