The painting depicts the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur on the evening of 13 May 1943 off the Queensland coast.
Centaur was torpedoed at approximately 0415 hours on Friday the 14th May 1943 by a Japanese submarine south east of Moreton Island. She sank shorlly afterwards. Sadly, of the 332 medical personnel and civilian crew aboard, 268 died. The ship had left Sydney on 12 May bound for Port Moresby to embark casualties from the Buna and Gona battles.
I wanted to show the ship under the conditions of that night which were described as “fine and clear weather with good visibility”. The seas are relatively smooth with a cross wind developing.
The ship is depicted with all lights on and clearly showing the standard markings of the hospital ship. At the time of the sinking it was reported that all lights were on except two forward floodlights which had been switched off to improve night visibility. The red crosses had been freshly painted prior to the ship leaving Sydney.