Search the Collection
Advanced Search


Date: c 1900
Overall: 305 x 409 mm, 1.4 kg
Display Dimensions: 143 x 195 mm
Medium: Watercolour, wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Watercolour
Object No: 00006353

User Terms

    Broadside view of the South Australian colonial naval cruiser HMCS PROTECTOR. PROTECTOR was built in 1883 at Newcastle on Tyne for the South Australian Government where it served as a colonial naval vessel. It was sent to the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 to support the Royal Navy and was later incorporated into the Royal Australian Navy and served in World War I.
    SignificanceThis image represents the defence of colonial territorial waters and represents the action of Australian naval brigades supporting British forces in overseas conflicts.
    HistoryIn 1882, the South Australian government resolved to purchase a ship to protect its territorial waters. William Armstrong & Co in Britain built the ship and in 1884 it was delivered to the colony at a cost of 65,000 pounds sterling. For fifteen years, PROTECTOR patrolled the uneventful South Australian waters.

    Classified as a light cruiser, HMCS PROTECTOR (Her Majesty's Colonial Ship) displaced 920 tons and had a top speed of 14 knots. Her largest armament was an 8-inch rifled breech-loading gun mounted on the bow, which had the potential to fire a shell to a distance of almost 7,000 metres.

    In 1900, the Australian colonies took their first steps into East Asian conflicts when they sent support to the British at the Boxer War. This was a joint action by several nations including Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Russia and the USA to crush a violent uprising against foreigners in China. The term Boxer was a Western corruption of the original Chinese name.

    South Australia lent PROTECTOR with a crew of 110 to assist the British Royal Navy. Victoria and New South Wales sent naval brigade contingents totaling 462 men.

    Arriving after the main conflict was over, their main duty was guarding and policing in Tianjin (Tientsin) and Beijing (Peking). The Australian colonial forces all returned home by May 1901 leaving seven Australians behind - six who had died of illness and one suicide.

    PROTECTOR had returned to Australia by November 1900 and, after Federation in January 1901, was transferred to the Commonwealth Government and based mainly in Sydney. In 1913 she became a tender to HMAS CERBERUS naval training base in Victoria.

    With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, PROTECTOR began service as a parent/depot ship to two Australian submarines, AE1 and AE2, and escorted them to German New Guinea. After the surrender of these colonies in September, PROTECTOR remained based at Rabaul until early October 1914, when she sailed for Sydney in the company of HMAS FANTOME. In October 1915 she was deployed to the Indian Ocean to report on the wreckage of the German ship EMDEN, which HMAS SYDNEY had engaged in battle in November 1914 and which had washed ashore on Keeling Island.

    PROTECTOR arrived back in Australia in December 1915 and returned to her duties as a tender to HMAS CERBERUS for the remainder of the war.

    In April 1921, PROTECTOR was renamed CERBERUS (the old CERBERUS renamed PLATYPUS II), and continued to serve at the naval training base. In 1924 she was decommissioned and sold. She served the next years as a wool lighter called SIDNEY until she was requisitioned for war service by the US Army in 1943. After a collision with a tug near Gladstone, SIDNEY was abandoned, but her hull was later towed to Heron Island, off the coast of Queensland, to be used as a breakwater. It is still there today.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: HMCS PROTECTOR

    Assigned title: HMCS PROTECTOR

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.