Original British Victorian Era Naval Pewter Tankard Marked HMVS CEREBUS
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a genuine one quart Victorian proofed pewter tankard engraved with two sea monsters, a naval "fouled anchor and:
HMVS Cerberus (Her Majesty's Victorian Ship) is a breastwork monitor that served in the Victoria Naval Forces, the Commonwealth Naval Forces (CNF), and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) between 1871 and 1924.
Built for the colony of Victoria under the supervision of Charles Pasley, Cerberus was completed in 1870, and arrived in Port Phillip in 1871, where she spent the rest of her career. The monitor was absorbed into the CNF following Federation in 1901, and was renamed HMAS Cerberus when the navy became the RAN in 1911. By World War I, Cerberus' weapons and boilers were inoperable; the ship was retasked as a guardship and munitions store, while carrying the personnel of the fledgling Royal Australian Naval College on her paybooks. In 1921, the ship was renamed HMAS Platypus II, and tasked as a submarine tender for the RAN's six J class submarines.
On completion, Cerberus was registered as a merchant vessel for the voyage to Australia. For the journey, the sides of the hull were built up to the height of the breastwork and along the length of the ship, to improve seakeeping. She first attempted to sail from Chatham for Melbourne on 29 October 1870, but returned within days because of gale conditions, which made the ship uncontrollable. After returning to British waters, Cerberus was fitted with temporary masts so she could be rigged as a three-masted barque; this was to provide redundancy to the steam engines, and maximise her range before recoaling was required. Cerberus departed for a second time on 7 November, and despite similar conditions, was able to persevere. The ship travelled via the Suez Canal (during which she flew the flag of Victoria instead of the Red Ensign so reduced transit rates for warships could be claimed), with frequent stops to refuel wherever possible because of her ten-day bunker capacity. Her flat bottom and shallow draught meant that the monitor could roll up to 40° from the centreline in bad weather. Her ship's company nearly mutinied on several occasions.
The monitor reached Melbourne on the morning of 9 April 1871. Following her arrival, she was designated flagship of the Victorian Navy. At the time of her arrival, public opinion of the ship was low, and she quickly attracted the nickname of 'Floating Gasometer'.
On 5 March 1881, five men from Cerberus were killed when their boat was destroyed by a mine during exercises. These were the only personnel from the ship to be killed during her operational history. Following the flooding of the New Australasian Gold Mine at Creswick, Victoria in December 1882, two divers from Cerberus were sent to help find miners trapped in air pockets deep in the mine. They arrived on 14 December, two days after the flooding, but could not assist because incorrectly fitting dive suits had been sent with them, and only 500 feet (150 m) of air hose was available, despite the miners being at least 1,500 feet (460 m) from the mine's entrance.
The ship was fitted with torpedo netting and spars in 1887. At some point in the 1890s, Cerberus was retasked as a storeship. In May 1900, one of the ship's company began to show the symptoms of the bubonic plague. Consequently, all of Cerberus' personnel were quarantined at Point Nepean.
Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, Cerberus, like all other colonial naval ships, was transferred to the Commonwealth Naval Forces. This organisation was renamed the Royal Australian Navy in 1911, at which point, Cerberus was given the prefix HMAS. By 1909, Cerberus could not generate enough steam to propel herself. She was used as a guard ship and munitions storeship during World War I. When the Royal Australian Naval College was founded in 1913, its personnel were initially listed on the paybooks of Cerberus, as the college was not a commissioned establishment. By 1914, the monitor's main guns were inoperable, and she was reliant on her light weapons for defence.
Following the transfer of six J class submarines to the RAN, Cerberus was renamed HMAS Platypus II on 1 April 1921 (taking her name from the submarine tender HMAS Platypus) and reclassified as a secondary submarine tender. For this role, she was towed to Geelong. Between this date and the monitor's departure from service in 1924, HMAS Protector took the name Cerberus and was attached to the training base at Western Port Bay; the base in turn took the name in 1921.
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