- A.N. Other
- History - general, Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Cerberus (Shore Establishment)
- March 1983 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In our last Review we published a short history of HMAS Cerberus at Crib Point. The title, or rather sub-title, drew a sharp comment from Commander R.S. Veale, RANR Rtd. Commander Veale points out in no uncertain tones that the title of “Cradle of the RAN” is not correct for Flinders Naval Depot. He points out that this title rightfully belongs to the old depot at Williamstown, which had been the depot for the Victorian Naval Forces from 1861 to 1903, and the Commonwealth Naval Forces from 1903 to 1st July, 1911 . lt was the RAN Depot from 1st July 1911 to 31st March, 1921 when Williamstown closed down and its functions transferred to Flinders Naval Depot as from 1st April, 1921.
The first recruits from shore to the new RAN entered Williamstown Naval Depot in July 1911, did their first sea-training in the former Victorian Torpedo-boat Countess of Hopetoun and Childers, and then joined the TBDs Parramatta and Yarra. The first RAN Gunnery, Signal and WT Schools, were established at the Williamstown Naval Depot during 1912-13.
Commander Veale is correct of course. Williamstown was the original “Cradle of the RAN”, and is well remembered as such. The sub-title of our article was used in the present tense. Cerberus virtually still is the “cradle”. About forty years ago when joining FND as a New Entry, I can well remember the old CPO Instructor telling us new entries, “This is the cradle of the RAN. Here we take you as babes and nurse you to the stage where we can send you to the fleet as a trained man.” No one will ever take the title from Williamstown, but it is in the present tense that the title was used. Cerberus still takes in the “green horn” and turns him into an efficient sailor. In my time the same applied to the officers, as the RAN College was housed in FND at that time.