LOCH-Class Frigate ordered from Swan Hunter at
Newcastle on 13th February 1943 with four others of this Class. The ship was
laid down as Job Number J4835 (Yard Number 1788) on 18th October 1943 and was
launched on 19th June 1944 as HMS LOCH CREE. She was the first RN ship to bear this name but as the ship was to be
transferred to the South African Naval Force (SANF) it was formally changed in
January 1945 to HMSAS NATAL. This name was introduced in 1905 for a cruiser
which blew up in 1915. It was also used by two minor RN warships
during WW2. Build was completed on 8th March 1945 and she was manned by South
African naval personnel.
G e o g r a p h i c L o c a t i o n s
LOCH CREE - Grid Reference for
River in Galloway NX7038
NATAL - Province in Republic of South Africa.
H e r a l d i c D a t a
On a field
azure, two Black wildebeest in full course at random, Or;
a circular border of cable also Or, ensigned with the
crest of the
of the Republic of South Africa proper, upon a tablet Azure
bordered and bearing the name NATAL in letters .
D e t a i
l s o f S e r v i c e
(for more ship information,
Naval History Homepage
and type name in Site Search
1 9 4 5
1st - Commissioned
for service in South African Naval Force.
Officer: Lieutenant Commander D S Hall DSC SANF.
8th - Build
completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.
for service in 8th Escort Group, Western Approaches Command. (Note: Other ships in Group were: HM Frigates LOCH MORE, LOCH ACHRAY, LOCH GLENDHHU and
This ship was the second of three
LOCH Class Frigates to be presented to South
Africa and one of the first major warships in the SANF. )
12th - Prepared
for work-up at Tobermory for operation service.
14th - Sailed
from Tyne estuary to Methil. Took part in
search for U714 with HM Destroyer WIVERN after Norwegian ss MAGNE had been sunk whilst in convoy.
out attack on submarine as a result of which oil and wreckage was observed on
credited with sinking U714. (Note: SEAGULLS
IN MY BELFRY by Rear Admiral CC Anderson, who was in command of HMS WIVERN gives a different account which suggest
that U714 was not sunk but had sustained
serious damage. He claims that the submarine was destroyed in a series of depth charge attacks later in the day. Awards made to ship's company were two DSC, two DSM
with five Mentioned in Despatches.)
No British Battle Honour is recorded in official
Record. (See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp and
HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.)
(See SEEK AND
STRIKE by W Hackmann and U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC
for details of weapons and U-Boat deployments.).
17th - Worked-up
joined Group based at Greenock. Deployed for
convoy defence and anti-submarine search operations in Irish Sea and SW Approaches.
23rd - At
Taken in hand
for repair in Clyde shipyard. (Note: After VE
Day nominated for return to South Africa.)
South Africa with HMAS GOOD HOPE (Ex HMS LOCH ARD).
30th - Arrived
at Cape Town.
Durban with call at Port Elizabeth. Prepared
for service with British East Indies Fleet
20th - Took
passage to Singapore from Durban. (Note: This is
at variance with details in WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO), THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton, both of which record ship as being
in the East Indies Fleet on VJ Day. It is
assumed the ship had joined the Fleet but not deployed in the operational area on VJ Day.
1st - Escorted
convoy from Colombo to Singapore.
On arrival at
Singapore deployed for convoy escort in Strait of Malacca. Deployed as Guardship at Padang, Sumatra in place of
HM Cruiser NIGERIA.
On release from Guardship duty
resumed convoy defence in Malacca Strait.
Singapore with East Indies Escort Force in continuation.
transport of South African personnel from Egypt.
passage to Durban with call at Mauritius.
30th - Arrived
Passage to Suez.
1 9 4 6
4th - Sailed
from Suez to Durban with returning personnel.
19th - At Durban.
February to March
Trooping duties in continuation. (Note: Two
round trips with South African service personnel were completed.)
On release from trooping duties returned to Cape Town.
(Note: Reorganisation of Naval
Service on a permanent basis made necessary the
of complement of the ship.).
May to December
Deployed at Capetown with reduced manning.
availability limited. Commanding
Officer: Lieutenant-Commander R P Dryden Dymond SANF.
Commodore, SM, ED, SAN.)
1 9 4 7
available for operational deployment.
7th - Took
passage to relieve HMSAS TRANSVAAL at Marion Island.
The Sovereignty of Marion Island by the Government of the Union of South Africa was formally declared on 29th December 1946 and that
of nearby Prince Edward Island on 4th
These two isolated territories were
annexed to prevent occupation by a foreign power
therefore considered to have strategic value as missile bases (Operation SNOEKTOWN)
12th - Arrived
at Marion Island after meeting HMSAS TRANSVAAL for transfer of charts and and local weather information.
14th - Unloading
of equipment suspended due to weather conditions at anchorage. Slipped cable and sailed for open waters.
18th - Returned
to anchorage and resumed unloading. Cut
path through kelp to allow entry of supply ship HMSAS GAMTOOS to Transvaal
28th - Relieved
by HMSAS GOOD HOPE.
(Note: Unloading of equipment from
HMSAS GAMTOOS had been severely affected by the
29th - Took
passage to Cape Town from Marion Island.
Took passage to
Marion Island to relieve HMSAS GOOD HOPE.
7th - Arrived
at Marion Island with supplies including aviation fuel and livestock.
20th - Made
return passage to Cape Town with personnel of Construction Party. (Note: This completed the first phase of the
establishment of a permanent base. Technical
assistance was given by ships staff to provide electric power supplies and other domestic facilities.)
Took part in
ceremonies to mark visit to South Africa by HM King George VI, HM Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
(Operation TOT SIENS). (Note: Ships of
the SAN provided escort for HM Battleship VANGUARD on departure from Capetown with Royal Family embarked.
May to December
SAN ships for patrol, visits and exercises.
1 9 4 8
SAN operational deployment in continuation.
1 9 4 9
deployment in continuation.
March to April
for hydrographic survey in Marion Island area by Commander Tripp SAN. Two visits to the area were made Commanding Officer: Commander M R Terry-Lloyd SAN (Later Rear Admiral, SSA, SM.)
May to November
service with SAN in continuation.
Under refit by
HM Dockyard, Simonstown.
1 9 5 0
post refit harbour and sea trials.
March to June
operational SAN service and carries out exercise programme with visits to east coast ports.
including visit to Durban.
August to December
Deployed at Cape Town. Commanding
Officer: Commander A A C Ouvry DSC SAN.
1 9 5 1
SAN deployment in continuation including visit to
Marion Island in October
1 9 5 2
Reduced to Care and Maintenance on relief by HMSAS
SIMON VAN DER STEL.
(Note: This ship, the former RN
destroyer HMS WHELP, which had been laid up in
at Simonstown since 1947. She was transferred to the SAN in 1952 and commissioned as a replacement.)
1 9 5 3 t o 1 9 5 4
Laid -up at Cape Town.
1 9 5 5
Routine docking period at HM
Selected for conversion for use as a
Survey Ship similar to Royal Navy DAMPIER type.
1 9 5 6
Taken in hand for conversion.
N o t e o n C o
n v e r s i o n
surveying equipment fitted to reduce reliance en the use of visual methods of
survey. This significantly reduced the length of time taken and enabled
surveying to be done when beyond sight of land and at night.
SAS Natal as survey ship
1 9 5 7
Under refit and
for visual signalling purposes changed to A301
25th - Commissioned
Commanding Officer: Lieutenant
Commander J C Walters SAN (H).
trials and prepared for hydrographic duty
November to December
Deployed for International Geophysical Year duty.
out cruise to south as far south as 51.30S.
and hydrographic sounding recordings made.
1 9 5 8
January to May
investigation of shoal water off Cape Agulhas and St Helena Bay. Carried out survey using ship's launches in Lamberts
June to December
Deployed for International Geophysical Year service.
out cruise in southern waters (Note: Survey
tasks were restricted by bad weather and area assigned was not fully covered.
1 9 5 9
January to October
Carried out further coastal water surveys including extensive examination of
in St Helena Bay, Port Shepstone,
Port St Johns, Cape Morgan, South Sand Bluff and
Deployed to survey planned route for
undersea cable near Milnerton and Table Bay.
Relief Ship for support of Base at Marion Island.
Hydrographic sounding were recorded during passages.
stores and replenishment supplies for Marion Island.)
hydrographic survey programme.
1 9 6 0 t o 1 9 6 1
Deployed for hydrographic surveys in coastal areas
around Cape of Good Hope. (Note: These
included NE shore of Robben Island, Simons Bay, Gordons Bay and NE part of False Bay.)
part of False Bay over Whittle Rock were examined by underwater swimmers Survey was also made of Agulhas Bank south of Mossel
(Note: Electronic position fixing
using DECCA system was used when visual contact
was not possible.)
Final stage in 1961 included
examination of shoal areas off Bok Point between
Town and Soldahna and survey of approaches to Port St Johns between Port Elizabeth and Durban.
was carried out for obstructions off Dakana Pt.
After the formation of the Republic of South Africa warships were no longer designated HMSAS and identified by the prefix SAN.)
1 9 6 2
Deployed for International Geophysical research in
(Note: Eleven cruises were carried
out. During final cruise new seamount discovered with a depth
10 fathoms in position 685 miles south of Madagascar on the Madagascar Ridge.) Commanding
Officer: Lieutenant Commander C J F Netterberg DSC SAN (H) (May)
1 9 6 3
Resumed SAN Hydrographic duties and
deployed for coastal surveys. Commanding
Officer: Commander JC Walters, SAN(H) (January)
surveys included coastal waters between Walker Point and Storms River which were completed in four months. (Note: Completion before planned date was possible
because of the availability of the the
electronic equipment. See above.)
officer: Lieutenant Commander A Fawthrop SAN (H) (November),
1 9 6 4
January to May
SAN Hydrographic survey work in coastal area between Walker Point and Cape St Blaize, Mossel Bay.
June to July
International Geophysical Year oceanographic work.
out running line surveys in Indian Ocean starting at Cape St Lucia and taking passage across the Agulhas current between
oceanographic stations. Scientists from
Cape Town university were embarked Detached
party carried out detailed survey of North Bay, Saldahana.
off Cape St Lucia, Zululand experienced heavy weather.
one week later whilst 180 miles SE of Durban sustained structural damage. (Note: Some equipment was lost including a launch
which was carried away from davits).
Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Commander A Fawthrop
Taken in hand for
Resumed International Geophysical
Year deployment on completion.
1 9 6 5
Deployment for coastal survey
between Mossel Bay and Duivenhoks Rivisr.
survey launch to SAS HARLEEM for survey of harbour at Sildahana. Carried out investigation of area off False Cape Friuo
near border with Angola to follow-up a
report of breakers made in 1907. (Note: It was
established that shipping should not approach the coast due to the existence of a pinnacled reef . Further survey by
boats was needed at a later date and a
Notice to Mariners was issued. Carried out
extensive survey of approaches to Port St Johns, NE of East London.
1 9 6 6
Embarked expedition for passage to
Bouvet Island (54 Degrees S 3 Degrees E) in
(Note: Objective was to determine
its feasibility for use as a meteorological station.)
out survey around island and made oceanographic trading during passages. (Note: Geological and Meteorological assessments made
did not support future use.)
Large scale survey
carried out of Millers Point and of False Bay by a Detached Party as well as a survey of the approaches to Khysna
harbour, Alphard Banks and St Helena Bay . (Note: These were completed with work between
Duivenhoks river and Cape St Balize begun
A new coastal survey between
Duivenhoks river and Cape Alguhas was started.
Officer: Commander A Fawthrop SAN (H),
1 9 6 7
Coastal hydrographic work included
completion of three investigations in Table
and survey of Luderitz harbour with SAS HARLEEM which carried out inshore work. Commanding
Officer: Lieutenant Commander J B de Wet SAN (H) (From April).
Deployed for seismic survey work in conjunction with
Department of Mines.
1 9 6 8
Carried out surveys en Zululand
coast and in Richards Bay area. After
completion in April resumed coastal survey east of Cape Agulhas (Note: During the night of 13th July ship was diverted
to carry out search
and rescue operation for survivors
of tanker WORLD GLORY which had foundered
to NE of Durban. Two survivors ware rescued and two
Commander De Wit was later awarded
the Gold Medal of the Greek Maritime Marine
for his services en this occasion.)
1 9 6 9
Richards Bay Coastal survey
completed in April.
Carried out local surveys in Table
Bay and on west coast of the peninsula.
completion resumed survey work between Cape Agulhas and Duivenoks river.
Commander A Fawthrop SAN (H) was appointed in command
(Note: He was last to command her in
service and remained until Paying-off in 1972.)
1 9 7 0
Completed Cape Agulhas to Duivenoks
river survey in March.
Survey of area
between Cape Haugklip and Cape Agulhas completed except for some inshore work which could be carried out by smaller
A survey was made off Isipinga,
south of Durban, to enable a mooring buoy to be used
large tankers for discharge of cargo without entering harbour (Note: The whole African coastline from the Mozambique
border to St Helena Bay 140 miles north
of Cape Town had been accurately surveyed by the end of
1 9 7 1
As a final contribution to
hydrography the ship was deployed to calibrate the South West African and the Namagualand DECCA Chains. Before paying-of the ship visited Port Elizabeth, East
London and Durban for a final visit to these
ports with which she had been associated during her duties.
1 9 7 2
SAS NATAL paid off on 15th March
after relief by the new purpose built Survey Ship
PROTEA which was similar in design to the RN HECLA Class vessels.
F i n
a l P h a s e
SAS NATAL was taken in tow to a
position 14.5 miles SW of Cape Point in September 1572 and sunk by the frigate SAS PRESIDENT STEYN in
September 1972. The signal recorded in
the Appendix paid well deserved tribute to the long service of the ship in
war and peace as a warship and a survey vessel.
A P P E N D I X
During her hydrographic service
NATAL covered some 250,000 miles and was acknowledged as being the most hard-worked ship in the SAN.
S i g n a l s o f
R e c o g n i t i o
The following congratulatory signals confirm the
high regard in which this ship NATAL was held as a 'happy' and efficient ship:
FROM: Chief of the South
TO: Hydrographer SAN
(DTG 171435 March 1972)
1. It was with much sadness that I watched NATAL lower her Ensign for the
last time on
2. There are officers and men still serving who knew NATAL when
she was young though grey.
There are many others who knew her as a middle aged frigate and others who sailed in her when
she was old and white. All will remember her with pride and affection.
3. Soon she will be struck from the list
but she passes with the knowledge that she has served
mariners of all nations.
4 PROTEA takes over from a worthy predecessor.
On receipt of the final Report of Proceedings from
the Commanding Officer of SAS NATAL in 1971 the South African Defence Ministry made the following
signal to the ship.
"Throughout NATAL's life as a survey ship the passage has been one of
hard work with
few 'flag -showing'
visits to provide light relief. You can be satisfied that your tasks have
been well completed and
that the ship will always be remembered with pride in the
history of the Navy. Well done!!"
CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMSAS
by Don Kindell
This convoy list has not been cross-checked with the text above
Date convoy sailed
Joined convoy as escort
Date convoy arrived
(Note on Convoys)