Addition of Access Hatch

An access hatch was fitted between 1890 and 1893. It replaced the auxilliary compass stand. The compass stand was moved aft of the second skylight.

Presumably the hatch was added so as to allow quicker access to the Upper Deck from inside the ship, possibly only for the officers though. The only other means of exiting the ship's interior was via the ladderways to the breastwork & flying decks.

In the photograph below the compass stand is flanked by two men near the flag. Moving forward is a skylight then the open access hatch and another skylight. Both sklights have had the glass portions removed which are resting on low wooden stands.

photo courtesy of "The Museum of HMAS Cerberus"

Mustering on the Cerberus. The Australasian, 31 March 1894 photo courtesy of "Newspaper Collection, State Library of Victoria"

Installation of Cylindrical Boilers

The original Square Box Boilers (below) were replaced by
locally made Cylindrical Boilers (right) in 1883. More Details

Two 4 furnace boilers in HMS Thunderer. (left one damaged)
Cerberus had 2 & 3 furnace versions of these.
Illustrated London News, 2 September 1876.

sponsored by Jeremy Graham.

Installing the Cylindrical Boilers.
Illustrated Australian News, 21 March 1883
sponsored by Greg Curzon-Siggers.

Steam Steering System

As built Cerberus needed up to ten men to operate its heavy steering mechanism. When the locally designed and built hydraulic system was installed only two men were required.

The steam steering gear had features in the tiller flat such as the rams and their sliding sleeve connection with the tiller which have survived to the present day. The mechanism amidships at the steam end of the system, while interesting in concept, has long been superceded. It is believed to have worked as follows: when the helm was moved, either from the normal conning position or locally by the wheel in the steering engine space, the engine eccentric shaft was turned causing the engine pistons and crankshaft to move in time with, and in the direction of, the application of the helm. The crankshaft turned a multi start sqaure threaded screw engaging with a nut within a hollow piston rod. The piston was thus moved within its oil filled cylinder and would discharge oil into one or other of the rams in the tiller flat; the rudder would thus be moved.

text and diagram reproduced courtesy of the RAN

The sailor at bottom right has his
left hand on the steam steering wheel.

More Details

Cupola on Conning Tower

"Captain Mandeville found that the "conning tower" - that is the tower from which the commanding officer fights the ship - was very much confined, and he has had that defect remedied by having a cupola fitted to it. This can be raised or lowered at pleasure by means of screws."

The Argus, 13 May 1878.

Image courtesy of
Cliff Sanguinetti & Shirley Joy.

Telegraph System to the Engine Room

In 1883 a telegraph communication system was installed to the Engine Room. One contemporary newspaper report refers to telegraphs in the Conning Tower. However these may only have been the ones communicating with the turrets. (The Leader Newspaper, April 15 1871)

Below are shown the two telegraphs on the Flying Deck. There were no telegraphs in the Shield Deck as there were 2 directly above in the conning tower.

The telegraph on the right is most likely one of those in the engine room.

Anti-Torpedo Nets

The photo below right (although not of Cerberus) illustrates anti-torpedo nets in use.

In the left photo the net supports are visible. Also just able to be seen (a faint line in the water) are the nets themselves (120 feet long). An effective protection against torpedos, nets were nevertheless cumbersome. Their major disadvantage for Cerberus was that the resulting drag caused a reduction in speed of about 2 knots.

left photo courtesy of Bluejackets & Boxers, Bob Nicholls, Allen & Unwin 1988

The first mention of torpedo nets was in 1873. "to-morrow...it is intended to try the effect of booms and netting as a protection against torpedoes." The Argus, 3 July 1873

In November 1890 Lord Charles Scott, the Admiral in charge of the Australian Station, reported "The arrangements for getting the torpedo nets in and out on the Cerberus were particulary clever and well adapted." The Argus, 28 November 1890

"On the Cerberus one finds some important changes, notably in the appliances for readily hanging out the topedo netting, which when the vessel is under steam lays close to her side. The spars which formerly carried the netting were got out with difficulty and in some cases undesirable delay. Now they are made to swing out like a gate, and the netting is promptly ready for the more vulnerable parts of the turret-ship." The Argus, 10 December 1890

Director Firing

"On the flagship a special interest attached to this work, as the new director was to be subjected to a practical test.

The director consists of a horizontal arc, & a support carrying a telescope which is worked on trunnions, & provided with vertical correction arcs & verniers. The horizontal arc is a semi-circular frame graduated in degrees representing bearings before & abaft the beam. It enables the manipulator to ascertain the angle and elevation of an object, & to make corrections for the speed at which the vessel is steaming. The instrument has been in use in the Imperial navy for many years. Its introduction to the Cerberus is one of the improvements which have been made by Captain Thomas since his return from England. It is intended to be used for broardside firing. For this purpose it is shipped on the conning tower, which is the station occupied by the commander in action. It gives the commander entire command over the fire, &

enables him to deliver it at any time, & on any point he may select. He has an all-round view, & he would often see the object when it was out of sight from the gun deck owing to the smoke, darkness, or direction. He takes his sight with the director, he gives his advice with regard to angle & elevation to the men in the turrets by means of speaking tubes, & he fires the guns simultaneously by simply turning a key in the battery of the electric gear. The electric gear on the Cerberus is not complete, & the firing has to be done by the men themselves. It is, however, in process of construction." The Argus 4 April 1888.

Details                                                                         image - The director in use on HMS Thunderer

Delivery Voyage Alterations

For the delivery voyage from Britain to Victoria we know that three masts were fitted to allow sails to be used. The rig has been described as a barque rig.

Delivery Voyage Rig
Image courtesy of the Museum of HMAS Cerberus

We also know that the sides of the ship were raised seven feet and the top covered over. The following quote leads us to believe that the Captain had his cabin in the temporary section.

She was then built up with temporary bulwarks for the trip. Captain Panter, in speaking of his experiences, said:- "I remember that the top-hamper built on to her was only bolted on, & the water used to come underneath it & flood my cabin. I had to stand on a block of wood to dress myself, for that was the only dry spot in the cabin." The Argus, April 12 1909

Cerberus arriving in Pt Phillip Bay with temporary Barque Rig and raised sides.
Australian Illustrated News, April 1871.

"She has had an additional iron deck placed on her, in order to enable her to be navigated to Australia, and she will also be masted. On her arrival in Melbourne she will have her temporary iron deck & bulwarks removed." The Mechanics Magazine, Nov. 19, 1869.

"The contractor for stripping the "Cerberus", Mr. James Deane, has been by no means idle and during the 11 days he has been at work the decks have been cleared of all bitts, timber-heads, iron capstan and windlass, riding bitts forward and aft, anchor-stoppers, hawee-pipes, and chocks, skylights, companions, combings, deck planks, iron bulwarks, iron topside plates, iron beams, and shelving, and the iron plating attached to the beams and permanent upper deck; these, together with all the cabin fittings fore and aft, put up for the voyage out, have been landed and removed away from the ship.The Australasian, May 20 1871.

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