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Save the Cerberus logo


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The whole world is watching

Thanks to the internet, and the superb photos on this
webpage, an increasingly concerned international
audience is seeing the continuing deterioration of
Cerberus as it happens.

The concern of international visitors to this site is on
several levels. They wonder why the ship--an obvious
tourism drawcard and naval heirloom--has been allowed
to deteriorate to this extent. And why is she still rusting

They point to the restored ships of the same kind in the
Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Chile and Sudan.
What's wrong
in Australia that Cerberus--perhaps the
most important
ship of its kind that can still be saved--is
being ignored
by politicians and those in a position to
There are several developments in the pipeline
for new
directions in this campaign to save Cerberus.

this page to see what happens next . . .

Time has almost run out.

Despite several strong campaigns in the past to save
the Cerberus (which we acknowledge and salute here),
official indifference always triumphed in the end. Even
Prince Phillip and Prime Minister Robert Menzies
once were patrons of this long-running campaign. Nearly
fifty years of inactivity on the ship itself led to the
horrendous situation of advanced decay today.

Funding has, however, been provided in the new millenium
by the Victorian and Federal governments. These are
very welcome developments that have begun the process
of stabilisation and enabled a variety of future options not
previously available.  Heritage Victoria and Federal
Minister Peter Garratt have shown wisdom in their
support for a restoration project that once seemed doomed.

You will read here about the vital significance of the ship.
And you will do something no-one else can do today--visit
the ship below deck, and view her amazing 10-inch RML
guns (NB: the guns have since been removed and laid on
the bay floor to lighten the load on the superstructure).
Go Below  
Saving this historic ship now for future generations will
require extensive funding and political will-power.

Visitors:  Consider emailing the following to show your
support for saving Cerberus now...

The Hon Peter Garrett
(Minister for the Environment,
Heritage & the Arts)

The Hon Justin Madden
Minister for Planning

The Hon John Brumby
Victorian Premier
& Minister for Multicultural Affairs

Links to Victorian upper and lower house members, and to
House of Representatives and Senators in Canberra can be
found here - a page...

Allan Trinca took these photos on a visit to Half Moon Bay during
March 1999. Suddenly, during March, the historic ship had started
to collapse."I was quite shocked at her present condition - just
a rusting and rapidly deteriorating hulk,"Allan wrote.
Cerberus in her heyday as flagship of the
Victorian Navy. Cerberus was among the
first of the breast-work monitors, a vital
link to the iron battleships that followed.
CLICK image to go to download site for FREE model
A profile of Cerberus prepared by British modeller David Hathaway, David has published a
paper model of the Cerberus as a free internet download that people can print out and make
into a realistic and detailed model of the ship. He feels the model will be a great publicity tool to
help save the ship that is a bit different and is free to use.
You can download the model by clicking here or on David's profile of the ship above (external site)
buoys around Cerberus
A buoy with the rusting Cerberus in background.
An historic ship slips into rusting oblivion . . .

The scrolling news presented here is from our very good mates '',
who are doing excellent work in helping to save the ship!

 HMVS Cerberus News Page: 


Ram turret ship Buffel Buffel's ornate stern.
Dirk J. Vries Photo                   
Schorpioen photo Schorpioen today.
Dirk. J. Vries Photo              
More new photos and information about Schorpioen <---Click.
Other preserved Monitors
Huascar in the Peruvian Navy before capture by the Chileans.
Photo of Huascar, dressed.
Huascar at anchor--photo
The Chilean Navy's restored monitor Huascar at anchor and,
above, dressed with flags. Photos courtesy of Dirk J. Vries. 
A small coastal defense monitor, bearing the name 'Solve'
(1875) survived in Sweden as a floating oil depot. Her future
was recently secured by the Gothenburg Maritime Center.
There is a poor photo on this page (in Swedish), and a card
model on this site.
Visit the
Pre-Dreadnought Preservation Website
(external site. Bookmark this site if you want to return here)


Nile Gunboat 'Melik' (1897) and armed steamer
'Bourdein' (c. 1865).

 Melik pre-restoration.

 Melik has been partly
restored already, and can be viewed today in a paved visitors' garden.

Plan of the Melik.
Images courtesy of the Melik Society.

Melik was one of the ten gunboats used during Lord Kitchener's campaign
(as C-in-C of the Egyptian Army) to reconquer the Sudan beginning in 1896.
She is presently in a splendid visitor area at the Blue Nile Sailing Club,
Khartoum, Sudan. The club currently offers basic tourist accommodation
in spectacular surroundings.

Bourdein was a veteran of the earlier 1884 - 1885 Seige of Khartoum where
General Gordon was killed. Stripped of her engine and boilers years ago,
her hull lies in  the dockyard at Khartoum North. (Australian colonial
forces from New South Wales became involved in the conflict March - May 

The grand plan today is to restore both vessels to working order so they can
be used in Nile based tours of the battlefiends. The project is a joint venture
between the Melik Society and Sudanese government. agencies. The
Honorary President of the Melik Society is the Rt. Hon. The Earl Kitchener.

You can read about Melik and Bourdein by
clicking this link (to an external website).


Brad Golding adds:
Below are quotes from two of the worlds most respected reference
works on warships, and a world renowned periodical all commenting
on the historical importance of HMVS Cerberus . . .


" . . . in Cerberus we have the germ idea of the principle upon which
all battleships . . . were based".
"And yet as examples of naval architecture they were deserving of
a full measure of publicity, being the first examples of a novel type
of fighting ship which was to be the embryo of future development".
"In every way the Cerberus was a complete break from established
tradition . . . ".

Parkes, Oscar: British Battleships, London, 1970. p. 166-7


"Cerberus . . . represents the beginnings of practical turret
ship design . . . ".
Conway's: All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1860-1905, London,
1979. p. 21.
" . . . Cerberus . . . was the first of the newly designed fighting
ships . . . ".

Vicary, P.A.: Ships Monthly, Vol. 4 No. 6, p. 204

Broadside view of Cerberus
A side view of Cerberus by Bill Billett.



Tonnage: 3,340 displacement.
Length: 225 feet.
Engines: Twin Maudslay horizontal engines. Nom. HP 250.
Trial speed: 9.75 knots (not rigged or armed).
Draught: 13' forward, 14' 2.5" aft.
Armament: 4 x 10" RML guns: 4 x 1" Nordenfeldt MGs.
Complement: 82 (incl. 3 engineers and 3 gunners).
Laid down: Jarrow, U. K., 18 September 1867.
Launched: 2 December 1868.
Completed: September 1870.

Cerberus was one of seven 'near to' sister ships. These were
Abyssinia, Cyclops, Gorgon* (Devonport UK), Hecate, Hydra
& Magdala.

Abyssinia and Magdala were used to guard the Indian harbours
of Bombay and Madras.

None of these ships, except Cerberus, has survived.

* An earlier HMS Gorgon was commanded by Sir Charles Hotham,
whose ship ran aground in a storm in South America. Using steely
determination. Hotham ordered the crew to dig a channel to the sea.
The ship's company was saved. Sir Charles later became Victoria's
Lieutenant Governor, and managed the Eureka Rebellion crisis in
December 1854.
The Abyssinia. From The Illustrated London News.

In an epic, dangerous voyage from England to Australia,
the ship rolled alarmingly in stormy weather. With only
a skeleton crew of 25, in case of mishap, all hands during
one storm worked frantically to bail out the lower deck. Most
of the crew broke ship at Malta, where one man drowned and
ten were gaoled. Near Aden, the temperature in the stoke hold
reached 142 degrees fahrenheit. Crossing the Indian Ocean the
heat browned paint in most cabins when ventilation engines were
turned off to save coal. The ship had been fitted with temporary
wooden sides and three masts and sails. Somehow, with luck and
good seamanship, she reached Melbourne on 9 April 1871.
Cerberus in Alfred Graving Dock.
Cerberus in the Alfred Graving Dock in the 1870s.
Another view of Cerberus in dock

One Melbourne newspaper unkindly described the ship as a
floating gasworks. Cerberus however proved effective as a
deterrent to hostile raiders. None ever attempted to tackle the
'Guardian of Hades'. The ship was handed over to the Royal
Australian Navy after Federation. She was eventually sold for
scrap to a salvage company. She was purchased by Sandringham
City Council in 1926 as a breakwater off Black Rock.

Cerberus is owned today by Bayside City Council. Numerous
plans to raise or stabilise the ship have been formulated, and
current estimates to save the ship run to $ A 10 million. A
spokesperson for the Council told 'Defending Victoria' that
"no-one has put up their hand for the ten million". The National
Trust is one of a number of important organisations that are
striving to save the ship.
The plan to save Cerberus
The 5-year project plan to save the ship. Action
should have commenced in 1996.
Pounded by stormy seas
Cerberus is often pounded by
destructive, stormy seas.
             (Photo by Bill Billett).
 Naval Historian Bob Nicholls has come up with a new idea. He
thinks the Cowper Cole turrets are the most significant parts of
the hulk. If the whole ship cannot be saved, he advocates that
one turret be sold (to Britain) which would provide funds to save
the other turret. This could then be preserved onshore somewhere
in Melbourne, and perhaps restored to working order. In the
absence of other funding, this idea needs careful consideration.
See a model of the Cerberus take shape <-------Click.
Forward guns of Cerberus
The forward 10-inch RML guns of Cerberus.


Short Select Bibliography

The Cerberus: Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria: Melbourne: 1983.

Evans, W. P.: Deeds not Words: The Victorian Navy: Hawthorn Press: Melb.: 1971.

Jones, Colin: Australian Colonial Navies: Aust. War Memorial: Canberra: 1986.

Nicholls, Bob: The Colonial Volunteers: Allen & Unwin: Australia: 1988.

Books about the Royal Australian Navy

Visit Defending Victoria's Navy webpage



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