Australia. Centaur commemoration taskforce announced

Monday, 21 December 2009

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier Anna Bligh today announced a special taskforce will be established to determine the best way to commemorate the sinking of the Centaur.

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 move to establish a taskforce comes just one day after shipwreck hunter David L Mearns advised that the location of the Centaur wreck has been confirmed.

"Following the discovery of the final resting place of the hospital ship Centaur on Sunday 20 December 2009, a Centaur commemoration task force will be established," said the Premier.

"This will include representatives of the Centaur Association, the RSL, the Centaur Nurses Fund, other representatives of families and friends of the survivors and those who were lost on the Centaur as well as Commonwealth and State Government representatives.

"It is important that we speak to all of the groups involved to determine the best way to commemorate the lives of the people who perished when the AHS Centaur was attacked.

"Of course the survivors are elderly but so are many of the relatives who have spent many, many years waiting for the chance to say goodbye to those they lost.

"This taskforce will take into considerations all factors in working out the best way to commemorate the 268 souls who went down with this ship."

The Prime Minister said the discovery of the Centaur yesterday marked a very important day for Australia.

"All Australians can now finally know and commemorate the resting place of the brave nurses and crew who died on that terrible day," Mr Rudd said.

The taskforce will meet early in the New Year to begin consulting on how best to plan the commemorative activities for the Centaur.

"It is important that we appropriately recognise this historic discovery and remember its significance to so many Australians," Mr Rudd said.

Many members of the task force have been contacted today and efforts will be made over the Christmas and New Year holidays to contact all stakeholders.

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

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.

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 December 2009 )