Adventurous Voyage Recalled

The Argus October 5 1926

In the Sandringham Town Hall last night the Black Rock Yacht Club held a commemorative smoke night in honour of the final berthing yesterday of H.M.A.S. Cerberus at Half-moon Bay, Black Rock. The first naval member (Rear Admiral Napier) was unable to be present, and Mr. Gullettm M.H.R. spoke in his stead.

The history of the old ironclad monitor, from the time of her departure, under Lieutenant Paynter, from Plymouth on October 29, 1870, till her arrival in Port Phillip Bay at noon on Sunday, April 9, 1871, was related graphically by the mayor of Sandringham (Councillor J. M. Ramsay). At the beginning of the voyage the compass was 66 degrees out of bearing, and the two shot rooms had been placed on the same side of the vessel, giving her a decided list. The Cerberus put to sea and in the Downs met with a terrific storm, during which the whole of the crew of 25 men was kept pumping continuously. She was wholly unmanageable, and scarcely made headway at the rate of a knot and a half an hour. She rolled 45 degrees on either beam, and at Gibraltar Lieutenant Paynter was informed that he should not allow her to roll more than 10 degrees before he cut the masts. He took the risk. After a protracted trip the Cerberus anchored off Sandridge and the impression she created was recalled by a quotation from a newspaper of the day, which said that great disappointment was expressed at her appearance. "She looked like a gasometer fitted with masts and yards, and had evidently been sent to sea on an experimental cruise." Her appearance was very different from what Victorians had been led to expect from descriptions and photographs previously received.


The Footscray Advertiser, 14 April 1900, p.3

TWENTY NINE years ago last Monday H.M.V.S, Cerberus made her appearance at the port of Melbourne from England, the voyage across being prolonged and not devoid of adventures. To suitably celebrate the occasion, and at the same time augment the deplenished funds of the Melbourne Hospital, a characteristic entertainment was last Monday evening arranged by Captain Tickell, the naval commandant proved interesting and at the same time highly instructive to a large number of people, amongst them being His Excellency the lieutenant Governor and Lady Hadden and suite, the Mayor and Mayoress of Melbourne, and other distinguished personages.

The visitors were conveyed in a launch from Port Melbourne pier to the vessel. The night was eminently suited to such an occasion, facilitating the carrying out of several novel features, such as a boat race, in which four crews took part and after a hotly contested battle the crew of the commandant's boat were declared the winners. A feature of the evening was a sham torpedo attack, carried out in the most approved warlike style, to the great interest and enjoyment of the company. Another item was the exploding of a submarine mine, which caused a report that was heard for many miles the other side of the metropolis, and was quite a novelty to land lubbers. The programme was not exclusively one of war, the sensational item being interspersed by impromptu vocal and other selections by a minstrel troupe aboard. After a plentiful supply of refreshments had been done full justice to the visitors left the vessel at 10.15 and returned to Melbourne, thoroughly satisfied with the evening's novel entertainment. As the tickets were somewhat expensive it is anticipated that the funds of the charitable institution in question will be considerably augmented.


The Footscray Chronicle, 19 September 1887, p.2

The annual report of the Council of Defence on the condition of the naval and military forces of the colony was presented to Parliament on Tuesday evening. Both branches of the service, the Council states, are in a thoroughly satisfactory condition. The torpedo depot is completely equipped, and great improvement have been made during the year in the armament of the flotilla and the forts.

The large sheds to the east of the Alfred Graving Dock are fast approaching completion. The structures are intended for housing the torpedo boats, and are being fitted with the necessary ways and shipping conveniences. Provision is being made for future requirements in view of the Defence department increasing the "mosquito" fleet.

During the week H.M.V.S. Cerberus has undergone a through overhaul and painting in the Graving dock. The vessel now appears spick and span, and as trim as when she left the builders hands. Visitors have not been denied admission whenever they wished to view the interior of the warship, and we have been requested to acknowledge the courtesy of the officers by several of our regular correspondents.


The Footscray Chronicle, 16 April 1898

Since the last annual cruise of the Cerberus, a number of changes have been made in the staff. Undoubtedly the most important is that the fleet is now entirely controlled by officers of the Victorian navy. The Imperial has wholly replaced by the colonial services. The naval commandant (Captain Neville) and Commander Kingsford both Imperial officers, have returned to England, and Commander Tickell, who was on the Majestic, of the Channel Squadron, during the Jubilee demonstration, is now in charge. Associated with him on the Cerberus are Lieutenant Webb, of the Naval brigade, Fleet Engineer Breaks, Staff Surgeon Stewart, Engineers Forsyth, M'Cowan and Spence, Assistant Paymaster Treacy, Chief Gunner Drewitt, Gunners Hayes, Blair, White, Stone and Hearne, and Warrant Officer Temple.


The Footscray Chronicle, 2 July 1898, p.3

His Excellency the Administrator of the Government on Saturday afternoon paid an official visit to the naval depot at Williamstown, and also to the Cerberus. Sir John Maddern, who was accompanied by his private secretary, Colonel Campbell, was meet at the Port Melbourne Pier, and taken across the bay in the Gordon launch to the naval depot where His Excellency was received by Captain Tickell, naval commandant, Fleet engineer Breaks, Lieutenant Richardson and Paymaster Treacy. An inspection was made of the depot and the torpedo boats Countess of Hopetoun, Nepean, and Childers, and the commandant, with the assistance of his lieutenants, explained how the torpedoes are managed in active warfare. In reply to a question put by His Excellency to Captain Tickell as to the time that would be required to prepare for an enemy, the commandant said that he could man all the vessels and have every thing in proper fighting trim is less than five hours. The party than proceeded to the Cerberus which was lying off the dock pier. The Naval Brigade were on the warship, and when His Excellency stepped on board the band played the National Anthem. The turret guns were worked as in action, and a general survey of the ship made. The uselessness of thick armour against shells fired at close quarters or a torpedo attack was explained to the visiting party when the conning tower was being examined. The iron casing of the tower is 10 inches thick. "What would a man's chances be inside during a fight?" someone asked an officer. "He would be all right if the tower was not hit," was the reply. "If a big shell struck it fair, there wouldn't be much of him left." Here Sir John Maddern remembered as a case in point a gruesome incident of the war between Chili and Peru. One of the Peruvian vessel, the Huascar, was a turret ship like the Cerberus. An Admiral directed operations from its conning tower during an engagement. Presently the tower was shattered by a shell, and all that could be found of the admiral thereafter was a piece of one of his boots.

Years have passed since the government was first asked to get four breech loading guns for turrets of the Cerberus to replace the muzzleloaders now on the vessels; but upon this request as upon another for an increase of the Naval Brigade, nothing is yet done. In connection with the inspection of the blue jackets on the Cerberus, it was stated that there should be an addition of at least 100 to their number. The present force is an irreducible minimum. There would be absolutely no reserve to fall back upon in case of a fight. When men fell there would be none to take their place. Much of what we have at present in the shape of naval equipment is good of its kind but there is not enough of it, and in time of need an insufficiency might be as nothing at all. At the conclusion of the inspection Sir john Maddern complemented Captain Tickell upon the effeciency and perfect order of the vessel and the depot, and remarked that the visit was most instructive, as well as pleasant.


The Williamstown Chronicle, 2 October 1897, p.2

In defence circles the promotion of Lieutenant Tickell, of the Victorian Navy to the rank of Commander, is regarded as a certainty of the near future. It is considered likely that on retirement of Captain Neville from the Navy, about November, the Government will, in accordance with an intimation given by the Minister of Defence some time ago, try the experiment of appointing a colonial officer as his successor. Lieutenant Tickell is at present in England undergoing a special course of naval study, and witnessed the great Jubilee Review at Spithead.

DEATH OF J. Prideaux

The Williamstown Chronicle, 24 November 1899

Last Wednesday, Mr J. Prideaux died at his late residence, 76 Electra street, after a lengthy illness, at the age of 64. Mr Prideaux was a late gunner of the Imperial Royal Navy and Permanent Naval Forces, Victoria, and had for the last two years retired upon a pension. After passing through his apprenticeship in the old country, he came out to the colony in the early sixties and, for many years, carried out the duties of gunner and drill instructor aboard H.M.S. Nelson, in which position he won approbation of his superiors and the respect of the men. He, with all the others, was then transferred to H.M.V.S. Cerberus, where he fulfilled similar duties until he reached the age of sixty, at which time he retired on the customary pension, which pension expires with his death. The deceased gentleman leaves a widow and a large family. The remains were interred in the local cemetery on Thursday afternoon, the funeral being conducted by Mr Thos. Lonsdale. The procession was augmented by the officers and members of the U.A.O.D. Trafalgar Lodge, No. 16, No. 12 district and also by officers and men of the Naval forces.


The Williamstown Chronicle, 13 July 1901, p.2

The Cerberus, La Trobe, and the lightship left the dock yesterday after their annual overhaul.

Shipping people have been complaining that the Cerberus interfered with the fairway to the piers - hence her removal.


The Williamstown Chronicle, 20 March 1909

The mobilisation sheet of the Williamstown Torpedo Depot shows the following as the disposition of the officers and men of the Permanent Naval Forces during Easter:- Cerberus-Captain F. Tickell (State commandant) Staff Paymaster A. M. Treacy, Engineer Lieutenant W.G. Robertson, Surgeon W. A. James, Chief Gunner R. Kearns, Gunner G. Stone, and Bandmaster W. Underwood. Countess of Hopetoun- Lieutenant H. J. Feakes (in command of torpedo flotilla), Engineer Lieutenant S. Johnson, Artificer Engineer C. Allard and Gunner F. Young. Childers - Sub Lieutenant S. Keightley, Engineer Lieutenant J. W. Owen and J. White. Torpedo boats Nepean, Lonsdale and Gordon's commands to be arranged later. Swan Island depot - Staff Surgeon H. P. Sloggett, Surgeon W. D. Yuille, Engineer Lieutenant J. Spence, Engineer sub Lieutenant Cresswell and Gunner J. A. Bates. Williamstown Depot - Chief Gunner J. Blair. With respect to the proposed examination of shipping service the following have been appointed:- Fort Nepean - Lieutenant O. Burford (chief examining officer); examiner steamers - station (Point Lonsdale) - Chief Gunner E. Hayes.


The Williamstown Chronicle, 14 January 1932, p.3

The Naval Brigade in the eighties and nineties was the crack corps of Williamstown, and there was a keen rivalry between it and the permanent navy. During the visit of H.M.S. Wallaroo in 1887, a naval cutter race was arranged between crews from the Wallaroo, H.M.V.S. Cerberus and the local brigade. The course was from the Port Melbourne pier round lightship and back again, and it was not only the longest but the fastest race ever rowed by naval men. The brigade crew won, with the Cerberus second and Wallaroo third.

Mr Fred. Wade, who was a member of the winning crew, has supplied us with the names of the winners, and proudly he says this crew was never beaten.

They were:- Drill Instructor Bates (coxswain), Messrs. Jack Evans, W. Williams, Dick Rowe, W. Johnson, T. Bell, W. Robinson, G. Hannan, F. Wade, A. Hyde and H Henningsen. He says that about 400 yards from home his crew put on an extra burst, and drew away from the Cerberus crew, who had been pulling neck and neck, and won by a few lengths.

The victory was celebrated by a dinner in the old Academy of Music, next to the Morning Star Hotel, and it was a great night.


The Williamstown Chronicle, 21 January 1933, p.1

The oldest Williamstown boatman is Mr. Fred. Wade, who recalls the names of those who have departed. They included Messrs. George Sheldrick, W. Symons, Bill Lennie, J. Eldershaw, Jack Gillett, George Nickels, Ted Brennan, Dan. Norman and Duncan Smith. Nickels, Wade and Brennan were employed rowing or sailing their boats to the lightship to meet incoming vessels for provedoring. Lennie and Smith were boatmen for the "Age" and "Argus" reporters (Messrs. H. Dunn and G. Hughes). Don. Norman had the first motor boat on the Bay, and Wade and he did the trip at 8 knots. She was named the Ariel, and was built by the late Clem. Blunt.

Many old residents will remember the watermen's shed, which was at the shore end of the Gem pier. Boatmen waited there till midnight to take off any ship captains or others to their vessels in the stream, after the last train had arrived from Melbourne.

Close by, the two water police boats were moored. Many a net was hung out on the flagstaff at the Customs House, after a night raid on poachers by the water police.

Many members of the H.M.V.S. Nelson and Cerberus crews lived in Williamstown in the eighties, and the boats left the old Stevedore pier every morning for the ships and returned at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, mooring there for the night, after the men had gone to their various homes. A large number of the crew lived in the vicinity of Dover road and John Street.

Commodore Wilson's Report.

The Argus November 23 1880

Commodore Wilson's report on the Cerberus is a valuable document. Commodore Wilson found the ironclad "clean" and "healthy", and of the sanitary arrangements he says they are "quite satisfactory". The crew went to quarters, and the ship was cleared for action with silence and rapidity. Fire was opened from the turret in six minutes and 50 seconds. The men have been properly trained in the use of the guns, but the commodore thinks that they should have more target practice with the ship under way, and he recommends that the Imperial rule of quarterly practices under steam should be observed. Considering the high pay the men receive, the commodore thinks that they can afford to dess better than they do.

The engines are in as efficient a state as when they were put into the ship; but the boilers are defective, and, allowing for repairs to be effected on board, cannot be depended upon for another twelve months. After suggesting some changes in the hanging of the boats and some additional stop cocks to the boiler, Commodore Wilson calls attention to the fact that the armament of the vessel is defective, inasmuch as she has no small arms to protect her against torpedo boats or boarders. He recommends that six Gatling or Nordenfelt guns should be procured. He points out also that though an electric lighting apparatus has been obtained it is useless, because there is no high-pressure steam-boiler on board.

The report has been referred to Captain Mandeville, who has noted its contents. Captain Mandeville reminds the Treasurer that he applied for the Nordenfelt guns two years ago, and also that he has repeatedly applied for the high-pressure boiler for the electric light apparatus, and that he obtained a vote for the purpose last year, but the money was "saved" - that is, not expended. The full extent of the target practice under way was, he shows, not pointed out to Commodore Wilson. With the statement as to the condition of the conditionj of boilers Captain Mandeville concurs.


The Argus May 10 1882

Owing to the representation recently made as to the weakness of the Cerberus boilers and their inulity (sic) in case of emergency, an official inspection of the vessel was some time ago determined upon, but in consequence of ********** Mr. A. Wilson, inspecting engineer, this arrangement could not be adhered to, and the examination has now been indefinitely postponed.

The Cerberus boilers, five in number, the safety of which is now in doubt, were first placed in position in 1868, so that they have now been in actual use for double the time allotted un ships belonging to the Imperial navy, where, as a rule, they are changed after seven years` service. The boilers have been repaired and patched so frequently that they are now almost past further improvement, and while originally they could be worked up to a pressure of 30lb. with perfect safety, an 8lb pressure is all that may now be risked, and this is just sufficient to get the ship under weigh, and to maintain actual motion through the water.

In order to discover what pressure the boilers can really bear, it is proposed to take the vessel down the bay to an anchorage, to substitute cold water for steam in the boilers, and to make the test in this manner out of consideration for the safety of those engaged in it, in preference to the ordinary test by steam. When the required water pressure has been bought to bear, it is proposed to fire a few rounds from the 18ton guns as a further test, since the concussion caused by the discharge of these huge pieces of ordnance has the effect of causing a vacuum in the interior of the vessel, which momentarily decreases the resistance offered by the air pressure on the outside of the boilers, and increases the probability of the metal giving away.

By such a trial as this it is considered that the real condition of the boilers can be ascertained. During the last few years some very important alterations and improvements have been made in the method originally devised for working both the vessel and the large guns, some of these designs being sufficiently ingenious to be worthy of notice. One very neat piece of mechanism, known as the dead-point firing gear, was designed by Mr. Break, the second engineer of the vessel, to remedy a defect which had long been manifest in the working of the guns, and which had in the case of a vessel belonging to the Imperial navy, and more recently in that of the Cerberus itself, led to considerable damage. The vessel first alluded to - H.M. turret ship Monarch - went to quarters late one night, and in the hurry and bustle prevailing the guns were fired while the muzzles were considerably depressed, the result being that the whole of the fore part of the vessel was battered into fragments by the immense 400lb. Projectiles intended for the enemy. A similar accident happened several years ago to the Cerberus, on the occasion of some members of the Williamstown Artillery indulging in shot practice. In order to prevent

Letter of Thanks

Argus Dec 18 1882

The following letter has been received by Captain Mandeville, of the Cerberus:- Department of Mines and Water Supply.

Sir, I am directed by the Hon. Minister of Mines to convey to you the expression of his sincere thanks for the very valuable services rendered by you and the officers and men under your direction, in connexion (sic) with the late deplorable accident at Creswick. The Hon. A.T.Clark, who was assisting Mr. Burrowes in his efforts to afford relief to the men who were imprisoned in the New Australian Company's mine, considers the energy displayed by the various officials is deserving of all praise, and this sentiment is fully endorsed by Mr. Burrowes. -- I have the honor to be, &c.,M.D.L.Pierse, Private Secretary. Dec. 14,1882


The Argus March 2, 1882

The prospect of a European war has induced the government to expedite the defence operations, which have been proceeding rather slowly for some years. Instructions have been issued that the construction of new boilers for the Cerberus shall be proceed with without delay, in order that that vessel may be speedily equipped for service.
Mr. Wilson, secretary for harbours, has completed the plans for the boilers, and tenders will be called for the work in a few days.
Telegrams have been sent to Colonel Pasley, acting agent-general, requesting him to at once purchase four Nordenfelt guns for the Cerberus and Nelson, and six breech-loading broadside pieces on the improved Armstrong pattern for the last named vessel. These weapons were ordered about two years ago, but the instruction was countermanded. The platform and carriages were constructed at the Woolwich Arsenal, and are now awaiting delivery. The guns are to be 7in. in bore, and from 11ft. to 14ft. in length, as Colonel Palsey may advise.
With a supply of ammunition, the purchase will involve an outlay of upwards of £8,500. The guns are to be sent out to the colony immediately. A contract has been let for the completion of the Swan Island battery, and that work is to be hurried forward.
Another very important decision has been arrived at by the Cabinet, which has resolved to re-establish the permanent artillery force disbanded in 1880 by the Berry government. Probably this will be deferred to enable Parliament to express an opinion upon the intention, but should there be any more decided indications of a European war it is likely that the corps will be organised in anticipation of the Legislature assenting. Such a body is regarded as being indispensable for the proper manning of the batteries, and the Government feel confident that their determination will receive general approval.

Testing Boilers

Argus April 25 1882

The turret ship Cerberus, which has been in dock in order to be cleaned, and have the bottom coated with patent antifouling composition, was floated out yesterday, and before proceeding to her moorings, trial was made of the engines and boilers. During the period the Cerberus was laid up, the boilers received a special overhaul, in order to make them serviceable until they can be replaced by new ones. The work had been done satisfactorily, and yesterday during the spin round the bay the engines went smoothly and well. The boiler pressure was only 8lb., but even at this reduced rate, a speed of from five to six knots was attained. The original pressure was 30lb. The turret engine was worked by one boiler, which has received extra strengthening, enabling it to work up a pressure of 17lb.

Gatling Gun

Argus August 28 1882

The Gatling gun exhibited by Sir William Armstrong and Co., at the recent Melbourne Exhibition, has been purchased by the Government, and is now in position on board the Cerberus. The weapon was offered to the Treasurer some months ago by Mr. De Jersey, agent for the firm, but the terms were regarded as being too high, and negotiations were, for a time, suspended.
It was then submitted to the South Australian Government and they also declined to purchase.
The Victorian government was again communicated with, and the terms having been modified, Sir Bryan O'Loghlen secured the gun. It is an important addition to the armament of the Cerberus, and would be useful in repelling boarding parties, and torpedo boats, or in any other engagement. One of the nine-inch guns for the Swan Island Battery was mounted during last week. The equipment of this fort is progressing rapidly.

Attack on Captain Mandeville

The Age September 28 1883

Mr. McIntyre made a coarse attack on Captain Mandeville in the Assembly last night, in the course of which he twitted Mr. Berry with doing all in his power from motives of personal friendship to retain that officer in the service. The Chief Secretary repudiated any such feeling with much warmth, and expressed his disgust at the attacks made on Captain Mandeville by a section of the Melbourne press. The circumstances of that officer's appointment were detailed by Mr. Berry, from which it appeared that when Captain Panter retired from the command of the Cerberus the vacancy was offered successively to Captains Payne, and Fullerton. Both these officers declined it and Captain Mandeville then applied. His papers were produced, and on being referred to the commodore of the station, that the officer reported on them satisfctorily, the result being that Captain Mandeville was appointed by Mr.Berry as chief naval officer on probation. This lasted twelve months, at the expiration of which time he was permanently gazetted and since that time his record has been an excellent one. The state of his ship and the efficiency of his crew were always reported on by English naval officers in the most favourble manner, and no official charge had ever been made against him. Mr. Berry said his regret at the neccesity to do away with Captain Mandeville's services was balanced by the knowledge that his successor was an officer of much merit but at the same time he and the other gentlemen who were dispensed with would be fairly treated by the Government, Captain Mandeville's case being deserving of special consideration, as he had received a serious injury while in the service of the colony.


The Argus August 27 1880

On Wednesday Captain Dufresse and the officers of the French war steamer Finister`e paid a visit to the turret ship Cerberus. The men were put to general quarters, and the visitors expressed their high opinion of the cleanliness and order of the vessel, and also of the smartness of the crew at exercise.

Captain Dufresse and his officers breakfasted on board the Cerberus previous to the inspection, by invitation of the officers of the Victorian naval forces. Yesterday the petty officers and men of the Finister`e were invited on board to lunch by the petty officers and men of the Cerberus, and there was dancing afterwards.

The visitors were charmed with their reception, and gave three ringing cheers at parting, the band of the Cerberus playing the spirit stirring "Marseillaise". The utmost good feeling was shown during the entertainment.


The Argus September 29 1883

The turret ship of war Cerberus was floated out of the Alfred graving dock yesterday and taken alongside the dock pier to have her overhaul and refit completed.
The Cerberus, during her stay in dock, had the bottom cleaned and painted. It also received a plentiful coating of Borthwick's patent anti fouling composition.
The Cerberus is now in effective order in so far as machinery and the vessel herself are concerned.
Her armament will now receive some attention.


The Argus September 8 1883

Lieutenant Collins in his letter to Major Sargood referred to The Argus, yesterday, mentioned that Mr. Nordenfeldt had perfected a new machine gun, 10-barrelled, rifle calibre, with carriage and limber in one. This gun is capable of firing 1,200 rounds per minute.
Major Sargood has recommended the Treasurer to order six of them, and Mr. Service has agreed to do so.
They will cost about £750 each.


The Argus June 3 1883

With a view to rendering the Cerberus more effective, Major Sargood is considering a proposal to replace her 18 ton guns with 26½ ton guns. When in England he witnessed trials of this pattern at Shoeburyness, and was convinced of the superiority and adaptability for the Cerberus.
Since his return he has communicated with the Admiralty for the purpose of ascertaining if it would be practicable to place 26½ ton guns in the turrets of that vessel. He had learned that experiments are being made with them in the Hotspur, a ship similar to the Cerberus, but the question is one of some delicacy, and prevents a decision being come to without considerable investigation.
Major General Scratchley, who is now in England, is dealing with the matter on behalf of the Victorian Government.


The Argus September 11, 1883

The turret-ship Cerberus was removed from the River Yarra where she has been undergoing repairs during the last few months, to the Alfred graving dock yesterday afternoon for the purpose of being cleaned and painted.
New boilers connected with the main engines have been placed in the Cerberus, together with an auxiliary boiler and engines for working the electric light, by Messers. Foreman and Co., of the Yarra Boiler Works, for a sum of £6,875, which, in additional item of £3,000, for removing and replacing the decks, the additions, makes the total expenditure about £10,000.
The boilers have been designed by Mr. Wilson, the engineer and secretary to the Harbours and Navigation department, and the work has been carried out in a very satisfactory manner under the supervision of Mr. Spencer.


The Argus February 24, 1883

Captain Fullarton remarked that the Naval Reserve had been in existence for 10 years, and he had never had occasion to exercise his power of imprisoning a man. He considered the present system much better than that of the old Naval Brigade. Sir W. Jervois had declared the drill of the men to be perfect, and the Earl of Clanwilliam said he had never seen a naval reserve to compare with this body. The Naval Reserve had arrived at its present perfection simply because the men were paid for their service.
He would recommend that each colony should form a confederation for attack and defence, with a central armoury, and a central point for gathering men, and that a naval and military academy for the training of officers should be established. America had a standing army when her population was little more than that of Australia. He considered the election of officers the weakest point in the volunteer system.


The Argus August 3, 1883

In Major Sargood's memo on the naval defences of the colony, which was presented to the Legislature on Wednesday, the Minister states that, knowing that the 18-ton muzzle loading guns with which the Cerberus is armed are not nearly as powerful as the new breech-loading guns, he consulted Admiral Sir Cooper Key, Admiral Herbert, and Colonel Maitland (superintendent of the gun factory at Woolwich) as to the advisability of mounting 8in, or 10in. breech-loading guns in her. He was informed that the Admiralty were conducting a series of experiments with a view to the introduction of heavier guns into the turret ships of the navy, and that Admiral Key would advise him of the result of their enquiries. The memo, adds that as the adoption of these modern guns would materially increase the effectiveness of the Cerberus, a telegram was sent to the agent-general requesting him to see the Admiralty upon the point, and advise thereon with Major-General Scratchley. A cable message this morning states that the Admiralty have informed Mr. Murray Smith that they disapprove of the proposed change in the armament of the Cerberus.


The Argus August 4 1880

H.M.V.S. turret-ship Cerberus was floated out of the Alfred Graving Dock yard yesterday morning after undergoing her annual overhaul. An examination of her plates showed no signs of deterioration, her hull was found in thoroughly good order. The floating out was a delicate business, owing to her momentum and proximity to other craft, notably the P. and O. Company's s.s. Hydaspes; but she was so handled that she came out safely, after being turned completely round within scarcely more than her length. She then steamed down the bay for shot practice, having on board a few visitors, mostly members of the Naval Torpedo Corps. The sea was rather lumpy, but notwithstanding her undeniably weak boilers, and under a strong head wind, her gun deck being repeatedly washed by heavy seas, the Cerberus made a good eight knots per hour.
When a few miles down the bay, a target was laid out, and at a distance varying from 800 to 1600 yards, 20 shots were fired with solid shot, or shells filled with sand. A few shots fell short, or a little aside, or burst, but they only served as foils to the steady good aim and admirable judgement as to distance generally displayed by the gunners. Shot after shot was direct in line, and scarcely a rowing boat would have escaped. The instructions given to the men in the turrets were, in the main, to fire when they got a good sight, and they gave a good account of themselves.
Captain Mandeville personally directed operations.
The effect on board of the discharge of the guns was peculiar, for the concussion not only splintered in pieces the shutters to the chart-room on the upper deck, but, when a shot passed over the deck side longitudinally, actually broke up a bulk containing stores so as to lay them open to the weather.
When the target - a wooden triangle surmounted by a red flag - was taken in it showed that one of the shots had actually struck off one corner.
In the end the Cerberus steamed safely back to her moorings off Williamstown.

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