- Bunnett, A, Halliburton, G and Webb, P
- None noted
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Yarra I, HMAS Nepean, HMAS Lonsdale, HMAS Parramatta I
- December 1971 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Late in 1909, the Glasgow barque Loch Ryan was purchased by the Victorian Government. It entered the Graving Dock at Williamstown on 29th November 1909 for conversion to a training ship for delinquent boys. The conversion was completed on 7th September 1910, and on that day Lady Gibson Carmichael, wife of the Governor of Victoria, broke a bottle of Australian champagne over the bow of the vessel and renamed it John Murray.
The new Torpedo Boat Destroyers Yarra and Parramatta arrived in Melbourne on 10th December 1910. Hundreds of people lined the foreshore of Hobson’s Bay to watch the two ships steam up the Bay to their berth in the Alfred Graving Dock. After an official reception, HMAS Parramatta was inspected. On the next day approximately 4,000 people came to Williamstown to view the first ships of the Royal Australian Navy yet to be born.
On the 27th July 1911, the Victorian Minister of Public Works, Mr. W. H. Edgar, visited the dockyard to drive the first pile on the new shipbuilding berth. While the work of demolishing old buildings, erecting new buildings, installing foundations for plant and machinery and constructing the building berths proceeded, the Alfred Graving Dock was worked to its full capacity. The Patent Slipway was used until the construction of the building berths was completed.
One of the last slippings recorded was the hulk Ariel, which was severely damaged in a storm and blown aground in Altona Bay. It was slipped for repairs on the 30th April 1911.
By October 1911, the work had advanced to a stage where the powerhouse was under construction and the uprights for the building berths were nearing completion.
In June 1912, a contract was let for the construction of the first boiler shop in the Dockyard at a cost of 3,925 Pounds. During the same month, the two torpedo boats Nepean and Lonsdale were dismantled for their departure to Swan Island for scrapping.
Early in 1913, the construction of the first vessel, a suction dredge for use on the Gippsland Lakes, was commenced.
The Shipbuilding Yard at Williamstown was officially opened by the Governor of Victoria, Sir John Fuller, on Monday 7th April 1913. In addition to approximately 600 official guests, a large number of sightseers visited the Dockyard.
The opening of the new Shipbuilding Yard was followed by demands for a new graving dock, but as the Williamstown Council was informed that the Victorian Government was in close contact with the Federal Government on this matter, it was dropped.
The next event of importance was the launching of the new suction dredge on Wednesday 9th July 1913. In the presence of a large gathering, Mrs. W.H. Edgar broke a bottle of champagne against the bow. The dredge was appropriately named W.H. Edgar. After this launching, work began without delay on the construction of a Grab Bucket Dredge. Tenders were also submitted by the yard for the construction of a suction dredge and a tug for the Melbourne Harbor Trust.
The question of building a new dock was again raised in May 1914, when the Premier of Victoria, the Hon. W.H. Watt, discussed with the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Joseph Cook, financial proposals for the commencement of work at Williamstown. In July 1914, borings were taken at the site of the proposed new dock. However, nothing eventuated.
Soon after the Declaration of War on 4th August 1914, the Dockyard was requested by the Commonwealth Government to undertake the work of converting merchant ships into transports. This work required the use of additional machines and the employment of additional men. By 30th November the employment figures at the Dockyard had reached the record total of 1,500 men. Five of these vessels were enemy ships captured in Port Phillip. They were Barambah, Boorara, Conargo, Gilgai and Moorina.