On the 14th May 1943, while en-route to Port Moresby, in New Guinea, to evacuate wounded, the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur – although illuminated and clearly marked as being a Hospital Ship – was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Queensland, near North Stradbroke Island, by a Japanese submarine. Of the 332 crew and medical personnel aboard the ‘Centaur’, only 64 survived.
On the 14th May, 2002 – using Closed Circuit Rebreathers – Professor Simon Mitchell and Trevor Jackson made an open water dive to 175-metres in order to establish the identity of a mysterious shipwreck that – mistakenly as it later transpired – was believed to be that of the AHS Centaur. It was a prodigious undertaking that, at the time, was thought to be the world’s deepest dive using CCR’s, and the deepest dive ever performed in Australia.
(In 2009 the wreck of the ‘Centaur’ was ultimately discovered lying at a depth of over 2,000-metres, by shipwreck hunter, David Mearns, the man who, two years previously, had finally found the remains of HMAS Sydney. )