Sydney - A hospital ship sunk by a Japanese torpedo in World War II was found Sunday off Australia's east coast. HMAS Centaur went down in 1943 with the loss of 268 lives while headed for Papua New Guinea.
The converted merchant vessel had hospital ship markings and, as required by international conventions, no naval escort.
Although considered a war crime, no one was brought to book for the sinking.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh welcomed news of the sighting, which came just eight days after a team led by marine search expert David Mearns began their search.
She said the wreck would be declared a war grave, meaning nothing would be retrieved from it.
The wreck was found in 2,059 metres of water, close to where the ship's navigator, one of 64 survivors, said it would be.
"I understand from the searchers this morning that this ship was torpedoed," Bligh said. "It was a hospital ship, clearly marked, and those who lost their lives on it were mostly civilians."
Mearns made his name by finding British battleship HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait - and the battleship that sank it, Germany's mighty Bismarck.
Earlier this year he found the wreck of HMAS Sydney. Brought within point-blank range of what the captain thought was a cargo vessel off the west coast in 1941, the navy's newest ship was sunk by the German raider HSK Kormoran.
Not one among the 645 aboard survived. Of the 397 aboard the Kormoran, which also sank, 317 lived.
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