As part of the deal negotiated in 1866 to obtain capital ships for the Victorian navy, Victoria was to provide a graving or dry dock capable of handling the largest British warship likely to visit. Work was commenced at Point Gellibrand to the design of Inspector-General of Public Works William Wardell, and the dock was named in honour of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, during his royal visit in 1868. It was at the time the largest single public works project undertaken by the colony. The dock measures 143 m in length and at the entrance, a maximum width of 24 m and a depth at high tide of 8 m. The dock took its first ship, the Victorian battleship Nelson, in 1874, and became part of a significant industrial-naval complex at Williamstown. In 1913 it became part of the State Shipbuilding Yard and was purchased by the Commonwealth in 1918. In 1924 it passed to the Melbourne Harbor Trust and became HM Naval Dockyard in 1942. It passed into private control in 1987. Now listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, it is no longer of an appropriate size to refit large merchant ships.