Australia. HMAS Sydney II arrives for Centaur search

Tuesday, 08 December 2009


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier Anna Bligh today announced the ship wreck hunter who found HMAS Sydney II had arrived in Australia to start the search for the Centaur.

David Mearns, principal of Bluewater Recoveries and the Director of the successful search for HMAS Sydney II, arrived in Brisbane yesterday to oversee final preparations for the search for Australian Hospital Ship Centaur.

Premier Bligh said that mobilisation of the search equipment, including special sonar equipment, onto the Defence Maritime Services support vessel Seahorse Spirit would start on Wednesday, 9 December 2009.

Ms Bligh said finding the Centaur could be a welcome Christmas gift for the families of relatives that perished on the ship.

"It is also exciting news for local historians and anyone who has an interest in what happened all those years ago," she said.

The Prime Minister said that Queenslanders and all Australians would be following the search cl osely.

"I hope the search is successful and that all Australians may finally know and commemorate the resting place of the brave nurses and crew who died on that terrible day," he said.

Mr Mearns said he expected to be able to start the first stage of the search within days.

"If all goes well and weather permitting, the search should be underway by the weekend," Mr Mearns said.

Representatives from the Centaur Association, Centaur Nurses Association, RSL and other family and friends of the men and women lost in AHS Centaur, have been invited to a briefing on the search plans on Tuesday, 8 December 2009.

"When I proposed this project to the Prime Minister it was to confirm finally the resting place of the Centaur to give some sense of closure to the friends and family and the many other people affected by this great wartime tragedy that happened so close to shore", Ms Bligh said.

The Prime Minister said that the Commonwealth Gov ernment was pleased to be able to support the search.

Mr Mearns who will direct the search from the Seahorse Spirit will set out the details of the search area, the equipment that will be used and how the search will be conducted at the stakeholders meeting.

The Queensland and Australian Governments have jointly committed $4 million for the project.

The search will be undertaken in December and January using specialised deep sea sonar equipment from the US based Williamson and Associates as well as a remote operated submersible from Phoenix International (also US based) capable of reaching depths below 3,000 metres.

Williamson and Associates were also involved, along with David Mearns, in the search for HMAS Sydney II.

Defence Maritime Services, which is supplying the search vessel Seahorse Spirit, has previously worked alongside Phoenix International in the project to locate the Australian Black Hawk helicopter in 3,000 metres of water off the coast of Fiji in 2007.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 December 2009 )