Gascoyne commemorates the sinking of AHS Centaur

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), Unknown (photographer)

Seaman Lauren Walter and HMAS Gascoyne Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Alan Parton, during a commemoration service for AHS Centaur  (photo: Unknown)
Seaman Lauren Walter and HMAS Gascoyne Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Alan Parton, during a commemoration service for AHS Centaur

The crew of HMAS Gascoyne held a commemorative service near the site where a Japanese submarine sank Australian Hospital Ship Centaur 73 years ago this May.

Commanding Officer of the Mine Hunter, Lieutenant Commander Alan Parton, said ship's company wanted to remember the sacrifices made in war.

"With our program taking us within a few nautical miles of the place Centaur was sunk, it was timely to reflect on the people who perished as a result," Lieutenant Commander Parton said.

"Of the 332 medical personnel and civilian crew aboard, 268 died, including 63 of the 65 army personnel."

Ship's company laid a wreath and recited the Naval Prayer.

The service was deeply moving said Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Lauren Walter.

"Lieutenant Commander Parton read a brief history of the ship: how she became a hospital ship and the events leading up to the sinking," Seaman Walter said. 
"It is good to remember those who perished and the survivors who faced a further 36 hours in the water before being saved."

AHS Centaur was a passenger ship converted into a hospital ship in 1943. She was sunk off the Queensland coast in the early hours of May 14, 1943 while transporting medical personnel from Sydney to Port Moresby, in the then Territory of New Guinea.  

Survivors clung to barrels, wreckage and damaged lifeboats for 36 hours before being pulled from the water by passing American destroyer USS Mugford.

The wreck of Centaur was found about 30 nautical miles off the southern tip of Moreton Island, on 20 December 2009.