List of Australian hospital ships

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The hospital ships of Australia were a number of converted civilian ships used for medical services during the Second World War. They were all staffed primarily by the Army Medical staff.

The ships fell into two groups: Australian ships and Dutch ships transferred to the Australian Government. The Dutch ships retained their original Dutch officers and Javanese sailors, with replacements from an international pool being added as necessary, and they also continued to sail under the Dutch flag.

Australian conversions

AHS Manunda

Manunda was an Australian registered and crewed ship converted to a hospital ship in 1940. First sailing to Suez in October 1940, Manunda saw service in both the Middle East and Pacific Campaigns, specifically New Guinea. Manunda was present at the Japanese bombing of Darwin, where she received repairable damage. In September 1946, Manunda ended her wartime service, and was returned to her parent company following a refit, resuming passenger movements around the coast of Australia.[1]

AHS Wanganella

Wanganella was an Australian registered and crewed ship converted a to hospital ship in 1941. She was built by Harland and Wolff Limited in Belfast, in 1932. Originally, the 9,576 gross register tons (GRT) vessel was to be named Achimota and operated by thr British and African Steam Navigation Company, but financial difficulties caused the ship to be sold to Huddart Parker. Wanganella served as a hospital ship from 19 May 1941 until 1946, during which time she covered 251,011 nautical miles (464,872 km) and transported 13,385 wounded.[1]

AHS Centaur

Centaur was British registered and crewed by Australian sailors. She was converted to a hospital ship on 12 March 1943. She was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-177 on 14 May 1943, during her second voyage to New Guinea as a hospital ship.

Dutch conversions


The Oranje, a Dutch-registered vessel of 20,565 tons owned by Stoomvaart Maatschappy Nederland SMN Line, was completed in 1939. While on her maiden voyage to Jakarta, World War II was declared, and by the time she reached her destination, the Netherlands had been occupied by Nazi Germany.[1] Oranje's captain was ordered to Sydney, and to present his ship to Australian authorities.[1] At the same time, the Netherlands Government informed the Australian Government that Oranje was to be converted to a hospital ship, at the Netherlands' cost.[1] Converted at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Oranje continued to be crewed by Dutch officers and Javanese (Indonesian) sailors.[1] Oranje was the largest of the Dutch hospital ships and operated in the Middle East, Indian, and Pacific Campaigns, making 40 voyages over the five years of her service.[1]

AHS Maetsuycker

The Maetsuycker, a Dutch Registered vessel owned by KPM Shipping Co Batavia Dutch East Indies was completed in 1937. She was converted to hospital ship at the cost of the Dutch government to treat transport 250 patients. However she was crewed by Dutch Officer's and Javanese (Indonesian) sailors. She sailed under the title AHS, but she flew the Dutch Flag. She served in New Guinea and the Southwest Pacific area.

AHS Tasman

The Tasman, a Dutch Registered vessel owned by KPM Shipping Co. Batavia Dutch East Indies. The Tasman escaped capture during the fall of Singapore and was converted to hospital ship at the cost of the United States government and transferred to the control of the Australian Government to transport 250 patients. United States Army nurses helped staff the ship. However she continued crewed by Dutch officers and Javanese (Indonesian) sailors. She sailed under the title AHS, but she flew the Dutch Flag. She served in the Southwest Pacific area. The Tasman was at the Vanguard throughout the Pacific campaign and transported repatriated prisoners of war from the Japanese prison camps at Santo Thomas Philippines.

Other ships

Two other ships of the KPM line, the Ophir and Melchior-Treub were also converted to hospital ship use and operated in the Indian Ocean and Bombay area.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Smith, A.E. (May 1992) [1991]. Three Minutes of Time - the torpedoing of the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur (Second Printing ed.). Miami: Tasman Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-646-07631-0.