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Le vaisseau cuirasse Australian le CERBERE

Date: c 1870
Overall: 223 x 314 mm
Medium: Hand coloured engraving on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00008397

User Terms

    An engraving from the French illustrated newspaper 'Revue Illustree'. It is titled 'Le vaisseau cuirasse Australian le CERBERE' and depicts the first of what was known as a 'breastwork monitors' designed by Sir Edward Reed of what were essentially harbour defence vessels. CERBERUS was ordered by the colony of Victoria in Australia in 1866 to prevent a perceived Russian threat.

    SignificancePrior to Federation in 1901, Australian colonies were responsible for outfitting and maintaining their own navies.
    In addition to the CERBERUS, Victoria at this time also had VICTORIA, NELSON, CHILDERS, LONSDALE, NEPEAN, VICTORIA, ALBERT, GORDON and the COUNTESS OF HOPETOUN. It was this fleet and additional modified government vessels that saw the Victorian Naval Force as become the strongest in Australia.
    History"The Breastwork Monitor CERBERUS"
    The Practical Mechanics Journal, October 1, 1869

    "But, while there is this similaiity in some respects, there are, as we have said, many important differences between our monitors and the American. Chief among these stands the so-called "breastwork" arrangement, which is fully illustrated by the sections and plan of the CERBERUS. On reference to these, it will be seen that in the central part of the upper deck a space is enclosed by an armoured wall, or breastwork, between 6 and 7 feet high. The space thus enclosed is in length about half the length of the vessel, and is about three-fourths her breadth.
    In it are placed the turrets, the funnel, the air or ventilating shaft, and the principal hatchways over the boiler space &c. Upon the top of the breastwork a complete deck is built, and is strongly plated; thus protecting from depressed or dropping fire the interior of this part of the ship, and particularly the turret engines, the turret beds, the steering, wheel and other important fittings placed within the breastwork upon the upper deck proper, as shown upon the plan of upper deck of the CERBERUS.
    All the principal openings, where water would be likely to enter when the ship is in a sea-way, are thus brought up to a height of ten or eleven feet above water, and the turret guns are carried eleven or twelve feet above water, notwithstanding the lowness of the freeboard.
    In fact, the only openings in the upper deck outside the breastwork are those made for the skylights, over the spaces in which the officers and men are quartered (marked sss in the engravings); and these openings are protected by strong armour-plate coamings, to which armour-covers, or battle-plates, are fitted, so that they can be closed at sea or in action.
    The only openings into the interior of the ship are practically, therefore, those in the breastwork deck; and this deck would probably be clear of water except in very heavy weather. In such weather the openings in this deck can be closed, as they are fitted with water-tight trunks, or casings, and then the hurricane or flying-deck that stretches along over the turrets would be used, access being gained to it by means of water-tight ladder-ways, as shown in the longitudinal section of the CERBERUS.
    It will be seen also that the steeering-wheel ordinarily employed is placed on the hurricane deck, and the officer in charge would direct the navigation from this deck also, except in action, when he would take his station in the armoured pilot-tower, and the ship would be steered by means of the wheel placed just below within the breastwork space."

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