Melbourne Weekly Bayside

25 June 2012

Bayside council's Cerberus battle continues


BAYSIDE council is at odds with the federal government and Heritage Victoria over the future of HMVS Cerberus. The conflict arose after the Department of Sustainability approved Heritage Victoriaís application to have a $500,000 federal grant Ė originally intended for restoration work Ė to be spent instead on a shore-based display to include the shipís guns, installing a corrosion suppression system on the ship and underwater mapping.

The council supports the corrosion suppression system but would prefer the rest of the money to be spent on bracing works to support the shipís structure.

Bayside mayor Louise Cooper-Shaw said that without the bracing work, the Cerberus would continue to be a public safety risk.

"While the vessel has rested in the waters of Half Moon Bay for 92 years it has recently been impacted by a number of extreme weather events that have hastened its deterioration. We must move as quickly as possible to achieve the best possible outcome," she said.

Friends of the Cerberus secretary Peter Tully said his organisation applauded the councilís decision.

"We are very, very excited about Bayside councilís taking this initiative," he said.

"The bracing works address the most critical issue of protecting the turrets from falling through the decks because once that happens itís just a heap of rusting metal.

"If the turrets collapse while people are on it, at 200 tonnes each itís highly likely someone will be killed."

In May 2010, the body of diver Robert Zakarija was found in the Cerberus. He went missing in February of that year after failing to return from a diving trip.

Bayside council owns HMVS Cerberus and the surrounding sea bed is Crown land.

The council will ask Parks Victoria to improve boating and swimming safety, including navigational aids, around the Cerberus as a matter of urgency.

HMVS Cerberus was launched in 1868 and was the first British warship to dispense with sail power. It is listed by the National Trust, Heritage Victoria and by the Australian Heritage Commission.

Heritage Victoria was unavailable for comment.