The primary role of HMAS Cerberus has always been Navy personnel training. HMAS Cerberus is the home of the Recruit School and, for all sailors, their first contact with life in the Navy. With the establishment of four tri-service schools over the last 13 years, this role has been extended to training Army, Navy and Air Force personnel. Despite this change, the charm of HMAS Cerberus remains. Its historic presence, heritage buildings, chapels, sports facilities and gardens create a pleasant training environment. Navy-specific training includes School of Survivability and Ship Safety, which specialises in firefighting, damage control and nuclear biological chemical defence, seamanship and weapons training.
HistoryPurchased in 1911 and called Flinders Naval Depot, it was commissioned as HMAS Cerberus 10 years later.
The site for HMAS Cerberus was recommended by Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson KCB RN after an extensive search of the Australian coastline for 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 originally to include a Torpedo School, a Destroyer Base and a Submarine Base, and be capable of accommodating up to 2000 personnel. The 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 established in 1917 at the height of building activity. The power house 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, on behalf of His Majesty King George V, by the then Governor General the Right Hon. John Lawrence Baird, 1st Baron Stonehaven, GCMG, DSO, PC, JP, DL, 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 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 needs of this sudden influx.
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 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, cinema, Senior Sailors' Mess, Club Cerberus, Gymnasium and Aquatic Centre, Seamanship School and Wharf, Communications School, Recruit School and Health Centre.
The phasing out of apprentice training, the closure of HMAS Nirimba and the introduction of Tri-Service training has resulted in many changes at HMAS Cerberus.
School of Ships Safety and SurvivabilityThe Seamanship School is the lead authority for all seamanship, corrosion control and survival training for Officers and Sailors alike. The School is also responsible for the delivery of Shipbourne Lifesaving, Survival Equipment Maintenance, RAN small boat Coxswains' and Certificate II Surface Finishing courses. A fully enclosed Demonstration hall houses large scale models designed specifically to support key training activities ie. replenishment at sea, berthing.
The RAN School of Survivability and Ship's Safety is an actual mock-up of a ship structure designed to teach students to work in teams to attack and fight onboard fires. Countersink is designed to teach students how to combat floodwaters in compartments and ruptures in the hull caused by attacks from missiles or torpedoes. Students also undergo training in combating Nuclear (radiation), Biological and Chemical Defence (NBCD) attacks.
Engineering FacultyThe Engineering Faculty is the largest training section within HMAS Cerberus. Both Electronics Technical (ET), and Marine Technical (MT) sailors undergo both their Initial Technical Training and Advanced Training within the faculty. The faculty houses a vast array of full size working pieces of equipment, from a gas turbine to an ice machine.
Defence Force School of SignalsThe Defence Force School of Signals - Maritime Communications and Information Systems Wing, is housed in a purpose-built training facility. Courses include flag signals, typing, terrestrial and satellite radio, data security and message encryption.
Supply and Health FacultyThe Supply and Health Faculty provides a comprehensive array of courses ranging from initial employment training for Cooks, Stewards, Writers, Stores and Health Services personnel, through to Post Graduate Diploma in Resource Management for Supply Officers.
School of MusicTraining courses for Musicians are carried out at the Defence Force School of Music (DFSM) at Simpson Barracks, Watsonia (approx. 15km north east of Melbourne and 80kms north of HMAS Cerberus. The Basic Musicians course is a self-paced course of up to 15 months duration. Although the Basic course is primarily aimed at Army trainees, the RAN utilise the for promotion courses including the Section Leader Course, Group Leader Course, Assistant Band Leader Course and the Band Officer Course.