Historians at the Tweed River Regional Museum Robert Guthrie and Robert Ford examine a model of the World War II hospital ship, the Centaur.
Historians at the Tweed River Regional Museum Robert Guthrie and Robert Ford examine a model of the World War II hospital ship, the Centaur. Blainey Woodham

Centaur close to Tweed hearts

TWEED historians believe the area will maintain its strong connections to the Centaur, even if the World War II hospital ship is discovered further up the coast.

The hunt for the historically significant ship is expected to begin in mid-December, with deep-sea search equipment currently on its way to Australia.

Tweed historian Warren Keats OAM headed the Centaur Commemorative Committee which established a memorial to the ship and its passengers at Point Danger in 1993.

“I’m certain they’ll find it – they found the Sydney,” Mr Keats said.

“I think they’ll find it where the second mate said it would be, 23 miles north-north-east of Point Lookout on Stradbroke Island.”

Mr Keats said the area would always have an important link with the Centaur, in honour of which a Banora Point Primary school is named.

“Tweed Heads was the last port the Centaur passed,” he said.

Discovering the exact location of the ship, Mr Keats said, would finally stop arguments regarding its fate.

“At last we’ll know.

“It will become a war grave memorial to those 268 people who lost their lives.”

The Centaur was sunk by a Japanese submarine in May 1943.

“It was a tragic event,” Mr Keats said.

“It was a ship of peace; it followed all the instructions with lights and everything, and it was a war crime when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said finding the Centaur would offer peace to the families and loved ones of those who were lost.

“The loss of a clearly marked hospital ship during World War II struck deeply at the heart of our nation, and became a symbol of our determination to fight on against a brutal enemy,” he said.

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

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the key platform for the search would be a Defence Maritime Services vessel.

“The other key search equipment includes deep-sea side-scan sonar equipment and a remotely operated submersible vessel capable of being operated at depths below 3000 metres,” she said.

“This is highly specialised equipment operated by only a handful of companies world-wide, with the majority based in the USA.”

US-based firms, Williamson and Associates and Phoenix International will provide equipment.



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