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With Reuben Goossens
Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Maritime Lecturer
Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed around 680 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens.
Please Note: Photographs are from the author’s private collection, unless otherwise noted!
To understand the
beginnings of Blue Funnel Lines we need to start at the beginning, for it
started with in 1865 when two brothers, Alfred and Philip Holt of
In the early sixties,
Alfred Holt & Co placed an order with John
Brown & Co to build the third ship to be named Centaur for their
Looking back, the very first Centaur was just 1,900 GRT and she was built in 1895, but was sold four year later (1899) to North German Lloyd and was renamed “Korat.” I have no further details regarding her since that time.
MS Centaur II
The second MS Centaur (2) was ordered for the Ocean Steamship Co, of course later known
as the Blue Funnel Line and she was
built in 1924, but she had a tragic end, after she had been converted to become
the Australian Hospital Ship (AHS) Centaur in
Australian Hospital Ship (AHS) Centaur built in 1924
From a subscribers private collection
Early one morning she was brutally torpedoed near Moreton Island Brisbane by a Japanese submarine at (approx) 0410 on May 14 1943 and apparently the AHS Centaur sank within minutes with the tragic loss of 268 lives, but thankfully there were at least 64 survivors rescued. This act was nothing short of murder at sea by the Japanese, for the ship was clearly marked as being a hospital ship and not a naval vessel, a ship of war!
Please Note: The MS Centaur II story will be online soon and a LINK will then be located at the bottom of this page as well as on the Main Index.
2009/2010 – AHS Centaur News Updates
December 20, 2009. The Director for the Search for the AHS Centaur,
Mr. David L. Mearns, who also located HMAS Sydney off
the West Coast of Australia, this morning confirmed that the location of the
Centaur has been now been confirmed. Thus, after 66 years the mystery has
finally ended! The Centaur is located approximately 30 nautical miles due east of the southern tip
January 10, 2010. During the night Mr. David Mearns and his associates sent down their remote controlled submarine to take the first ever footage of the wreck of this Australian hospital ship. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle, especially for the surviving families of those who perished. Excellent images were taken of the Centaur starting from 2.50 AM and she is seen lying on a sandy ocean floor at a depth of about 2059 meters and listing some 25 degrees to the port side. Amazingly her paintwork is in reasonably good order, her white hull is clearly visible considering the time she has been on the seabed, as are the Red Crosses on her sides denoting that it was a hospital ship, for they are clearly visible, as is her thick green band painted around the ship. On her bow, the distinctive star could also be seen on the bow’s company crest (which had been painted over during the war) along with the corroded identification number 47 on the front sides of the bow.
The Red Cross seen on the side of the AHS Centaur on January 10, 2010
Photograph AAP Bruce Long
A full colour artists impression of the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur
Artist unknown – *See photo and credit details at bottom of the page
Other Blue Funnel Ships
MS Gorgon and Charon
Although there were the older sister ships in service such as the MS Gorgon and Charon, which had been operating a successful service, but now a newer and a more modern ship was required to operate from the East Coast of Australia and thus superior passenger facilities were required and the modern MS Centaur (3) would fill this need perfectly!
There was no doubt that she proved to be one of the most attractive passenger-cargo liners to be built. In the past, all combination liners before her, they were built in a “three island configuration,” however the Centaur featured an extended and a long forward freighter section with a high aft superstructure that was used for her passenger accommodations. This, combined with her tall streamlined funnel gave her an unusual, but a most attractive profile.
Note the vitiated air discharge outlets on the two forward masts
Centaur had many
unique features, whilst having excellent passenger accommodations; she also
carried general, refrigerated and liquid cargoes. In addition, Centaur, like
the ships she replaced, carried up to 700 head of cattle or some 4,500 sheep in
her ’tween decks. Livestock was loaded both in Broome or
Built for £1½ million
sterling, MS Centaur was launched on June 20, 1963 by Mrs. Brand, the wife of
the Western Australian Premier. After her official handover in January 1964,
she departed for Liverpool, where she loaded cargo for
was registered under the ownership of Ocean Steamship Co. Ltd, part of the
Alfred Holt Group. She was then transferred to another Alfred Holt subsidiary,
the China Mutual Steam Navigation Co. In 1973 she was re-registered in
Centaur was blessed with spacious decks, both aft and on the forward superstructure
Centaur offered excellent accommodation for 196 one-class passengers. Promenade (A) Deck had two luxury suites with private facilities located forward flanking the library. Amidships were ten twin cabins with private facilities. Aft was a spacious lounge overlooking Lido Deck and the ships pool. B and C Decks had seventy-seven 1-2-4 bedded/berth cabins, of which twenty-three 1 and 2 bedded cabins on B Deck had private facilities. B Deck also facilitated the Children’s facilities and a paddle pool, whereas the Dinning Room, Cinema and the Music Room were located on C deck.
Centaur was designed
to offer her passengers a cruise-like voyage, rather than a liner service
between Fremantle and
In 1979, Blue Funnel Line
placed her on a new service, a 25 day circle voyage
from Fremantle to
After her arrival in
MS Hai Da seen around April/May 1986
Photographer unknown – see photo notes at bottom of page
The MS Hai Da is
seen here in
Photographer unknown – see photo notes at bottom of page
In 1986 she was
renamed Hai Da and continued service, In February 2006 MS Hai Da was finally sold
to ship breakers at
Built by: John Brown & Co., Glasgow.
Launched: June 20, 1963.
Inaugural voyage: January
20, 1964 -
Tonnage: 8,262 GRT (Gross registered tons).
Length: 146.6m - 481ft.
Width: 20.1m - 66ft.
Draught: 7m - 23ft..
Engines: 2 B&W diesels - 16,500 BHP
Service speed: 20 knots.
Passenger decks: 6.
Livery: All white hull and superstructure and a blue and black funnel.
Enter our Centaur Photo & Cabin Plan Page
With images & Cabin Plan kindly provided by Mr Stan Evans
Many Australians will have fond memories of this unusual passenger-cargo liner
Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”
Visit our ssMaritime Main INDEX
Where you will discover around 680 Classic Passenger & Passenger-Cargo Liners!
Where the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story
Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author does not seek funding or favours and never have and never will.
Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are either by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images and photographs that have been provided by Shipping Companies or private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors, however, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer or owner concerned. Therefore, I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address can be found at the bottom of the page on www.ssmaritime.com), in order that due credit may be given.
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