Earlier this year Friends of the Cerberus followed up a suggestion from the City of Bayside about the possibility of relocating the gun turrets and guns from HMVS Cerberus to a land based location. As the obvious place to locate the turrets and guns from HMVS Cerberus is HMAS Cerberus, we approached the base which was named after the world's first Breastwork Monitor. It goes without saying, that given the importance of tradition in the Royal Australian Navy, that Captain Bowater, Commander Eastman and the staff of the Museum of HMAS Cerberus were very keen to host the turrets and guns from HMVS Cerberus.
We therefore commissioned Matt Manifold of Mammoth Movers to investigate whether our grant was large enough to allow for the turrets and guns to be relocated. After costing the hire of barges etc, initial indications are that the turrets and guns should be able to be moved within the funds available from the NHII grant. Matt stressed that a full feasibility study would need to be undertaken given the complicated nature of the proposed operation.
The intention is, that were the turrets and guns able to be moved to HMAS Cerberus, following the recommendations of Dr Ian MacLeod, a world renowned expert in iron conservation, they would be water blasted and appropriately coated.
Moving the Cerberus turrets and guns to HMAS Cerberus has many advantages:- 1.The long term tenure of the base means that there would be no need to find a future location as would be the case with a private organisation ceasing to operate. 2.The freedom from vandalism given the secure nature of the base. 3.They would be at the same location as the Museum of HMAS Cerberus with its collection of HMVS Cerberus artifacts. 4.The ease of treating the turrets and guns on land in order to preserve them. 5.The accessibility of the turrets and guns for examination. 6.The lessening of deterioration given the more hospitable land location and freedom from constant sea action. 7.The future possibility of reuniting the turrets and guns with the rest of the ship by moving HMVS Cerberus to HMAS Cerberus.
Disadvantages 1.Removing the turrets will certainly change the ship's current profile. This will happen in any case when the turrets collapse. Eventually, collapsed turrets with a height of 2.7 metres will not be visible in water that is over 4.5 metres deep. 2. The only real disadvantage that we can see is the distance of HMAS Cerberus from Melbourne. We believe that the advantages listed above more than compensate for this disadvantage. If only HMAS Cerberus was still in Williamstown, as it was until 1921.
The alternatives to relocating the guns and turrets are:- 1.To use the existing funds to fill Cerberus with sand, a course of action that would in no way preserve the ship and that as a result, Friends of the Cerberus is totally opposed to. 2.To return the funds to the Federal Government and allow the turrets to collapse.
Either of the above alternatives would mean that the gun turrets would collapse and that no further action would ever be taken to save what would end up as a pile of iron. Future generations would rightly comment on a lost opportunity.
Course of Action
We have approached the City of Bayside and asked that they agree to the undertaking of a feasibility study. We have proposed that the study be funded from the NHII grant and that no financial contribution would be required from the City of Bayside. Should Bayside agree, then the relevant federal government department would need to be approached with a request that the terms of the NHII grant be varied. A permit would also be needed from Heritage Victoria.