- A.N. Other
- Ship histories and stories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Cerberus (Shore Establishment)
- June 1999 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Settlers started arriving on the Mornington Peninsula in 1840. At that time, Alfred Mayrick, from whom the township of Merricks takes its name, took up the Coolart ‘run’ which included the present site of HMAS Cerberus. In 1846, the property was bought by a man named Payne, who, in 1853, passed it on to Joseph Hann, after whom Hann’s Inlet was named.
The site for HMAS Cerberus was first recommended by Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson KCB RN after an extensive search of the Australian coastline to find suitable locations for major naval bases. He proposed that a base be established on Hann’s Inlet between Sandy Point and Stony Point on Westernport Bay.
The base was to include a Torpedo School, a Destroyer Base and a Submarine Base and was to be capable of accommodating up to 2000 personnel. This site, covering over 1500 hectares (nearly 3600 acres), was purchased in 1911.
The first sod was turned in 1913. The old wharf and hospital were erected first, followed by A, B and C Blocks. The Wardroom, Warrant Officers’ Mess, Captain’s and other Officers’ residences were built between 1915 and 1917. The Drill Hall, Gunnery School and Torpedo School (now part of the Technical Training Centre) were built 1917 at the height of building activity. The powerhouse and other residences were built between 1918 and 1920.
The base was officially opened in September, 1920 under the command of Commander F.C. Darley RN. The idea of using it as a Fleet Base was soon abandoned and it became known as Flinders Naval Depot in 1921. The Depot was commissioned HMAS Cerberus on 1 April that year.
Royal Colours were first presented to HMAS Cerberus by his Majesty King George V in 1927. They were the first Royal Colours to be presented to an Australian Naval Unit.
The Queen’s Royal Colours were presented in 1954 by his Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Royal Colours incorporating the Southern Cross were later presented to by Governor General, Lord Casey in 1968. The present Royal Colours were presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1986.
In 1930, during a period of naval retrenchment, the Royal Australian Naval College moved from Jervis Bay to HMAS Cerberus where it remained until 1958, when it returned to Jervis Bay.
The outbreak of World War II found the facilities inadequate to deal with the needs of wartime recruits who were passing through Cerberus at the rate of 400 a month. Temporary buildings were erected to cope with the additional training, accommodation, recreation and hospital needs of this sudden influx of manpower.
The first WRANs arrived in 1942 and apart from a short post-war break have been part of the RAN ever since. 1942 also saw the introduction of an Officers’ Training School to train selected recruits as officers for war service. The school trained 1000 sailors during the war and closed in 1945.
There have been many changes to HMAS Cerberus since the war. Progressively, many of the temporary buildings have been dismantled and replaced.
The Roman Catholic Chapel, Our Lady Star of the Sea, was opened in 1948, followed by St. Mark’s Chapel in 1954. Other additions include the present Accommodation Blocks, the Cinema, the Senior Sailors’ Mess, Club Cerberus, the Gymnasium, Seamanship School and Wharf, Communications School and Recruit School. New facilities are to be built, and existing facilities have been refurbished, to cater following the closure of HMAS Nirimba.