The fall of Singapore in February 1942 resulted in the loss of a major allied naval base in the Pacific, including their giant hammerhead dockside crane, completed in 1938. Australia saw the need for additional Pacific naval facilities to adequately service the warships of the English, American and Australian navies.

As Garden Island Naval Dockyard in Sydney was well established, with its large graving dock, tenders were called in 1944 for a similar dockside crane to be constructed. Sir William Arrol and Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners in London prepared the construction documents and the Sydney Steel Company Pty Ltd of Marrickville was the successful tenderer. The crane was completed in 1951 taking seven years to build. This is the largest and only crane of its type in the southern hemisphere, originally designed to lift gun turrets of 250 tons from cruisers and battleships.

In 2007 it was placed on the NSW National Trust “Heritage at Risk” register. The navy announced in August 2013 that the crane would be demolished to allow additional berthing space for its new navy fleet. Demolition commenced in 2014.

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Photos courtesy Michael Clarke and John Gibson. © Copyright Michael Clarke, John Gibson, 2014.