Sea service for AHS Centaur

A MEMORIAL service for the 332 victims and survivors of Australian hospital ship Centaur will be held at sea in September, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced on Monday.

The At-Sea Thanksgiving and Remembrance Service will be held on one of Australia's largest navy ships, the HMAS Kanimbla, on Friday 24 September.

Sunk by a submarine off the Queensland coast in 1943, the AHS Centaur was discovered just before Christmas last year. The HMAS Centaur's final resting place was a mystery for 66 years.

"This will be a very special service for family and friends of the 268 personnel who were lost and of the 64 people who survived the Centaur sinking,'' the Premier said.

"This will be a day where the focus is strongly on the families and descendents of those who were on board on the AHS Centaur's final day.

"These people have waited a very long time for this ceremony.''

The HMAS Kanimbla will be limited to 300 relatives and descendents. It will travel to the service location, 50km east of Moreton Island where the Centaur now rests about 2km below the surface.

Ms Bligh said the descendents and families of the survivors and those lost in the AHS Centaur will be invited to nominate to attend with priority given to survivors and immediate descendents and families.

Australia's top political and military officials led a National Service of Remembrance for the Centaur at St John's Cathedral in Brisbane in March.

"The service at St John's allowed our nation and the people of Australia to pay tribute to the brave men and women of the Centaur,'' Ms Bligh said.

"This At-Sea Service will be a more intimate service - a special time for families and descendents. It will be a service that will bring closure for many."

The HMAS Kanimbla is expected to cast off at 7am and is not expected back into Brisbane until 9pm.

One of the two remaining survivors from the AHS Centaur, former steward Martin Pash, 87, hopes to make the journey out to sea to pay his respects.

More information about the AHS Centaur can be found online.

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