Maritime Series

The Mystery of the AHS Centaur

AHS Centaur

Richard Jones discusses the story of the AHS Centaur (an Australian hospital ship sunk in WWII) including the sinking, organising the search, and the discovery of Centaur's location.

  • A War Crime on Our Door Step

    The Australian Hospital Ship 2/3 AHS Centaur, protected at the time under the Hague Convention (X) of 1907, should never have been sunk by enemy action. However, she was torpedoed and sunk east of Brisbane on May 14, 1943 by Japanese submarine I-177. It was a war crime committed on our doorstep in a period marked by some of the darkest days for Australia in WWII.

    Of the 332 personnel on board, all were non-combatant: the ship’s crew, the ship’s doctors, nursing sisters, a dentist, a Red Cross representative, medical staff and members of the 2/12 Field Ambulance. Only 64 survived the sinking.

    A Mystery Solved After 46 Years By A Famed Shipwreck Hunter

    The Centaur’s whereabouts and the remains of the 268 souls lost with her remained a mystery for more than 46 years. Years of searching, with many competing theories, found at least one shipwreck falsely identified as the Centaur. In 2008 HMAS Sydney, sunk in 1941 off Western Australia, was found by shipwreck hunter David Mearns and his team.

    This startling discovery made members of the 2/3 AHS Centaur Association determined to get a project going to find AHS Centaur too. In late 2009, a search also led by Mearns was successful, confirmed with extensive photography.

    We now know where Centaur rests: in total darkness 2000 metres below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

    Hear the Story of the Search and the Impact of the Discovery

    Richard Jones will describe the adventure in getting the search organised and funded, including the idiosyncrasies of the Australian East Coast Current which caused conflicting evidence on the possible whereabouts of Centaur.

    He will describe the profound effect on families and friends of those on Centaur when the wreck was eventually found and positively identified.

    About Richard Jones

    Richard is the president of the 2/3 AHS Centaur Association. His uncle was a doctor with the 2/12 Field Ambulance, lost with the Centaur.


    Date: Thursday 10 May 2018, 2pm - 4pm.

    Cost: Members $20, Adults $35. 

    Includes: Afternoon tea.

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