"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Sioux under General


The SA Navy Museum is located in the former Royal Navy Mast House which dates back to 1815, and the adjacent Dutch Store House that dates back to 1743. The museum holds a collection of memorabilia from the S A Navy dating back to its inception through to modern times.

Kalk Bay, a fishing village on the False Bay coast, is a literal translation from the Dutch/Afrikaans name “Kalkbaai” meaning “Lime Bay”, and stemmed from the vast deposits of mussel shells found in the area, which early settlers would have burned to make lime for construction. The foundation stone for the fishing boat harbour was laid in 1913. Built in 1919, the round tapered stone lighthouse is still active and stands 5m high. It has become world famous due to images that have been posted on social media of massive waves breaking over the harbor wall, and in stormy seas, dwarfing the lighthouse. 

The South African Navy can trace its origins back to the SA Naval Service, established in 1921; and unofficially, even further back, to

the Natal Naval Volunteers, which was formed in Durban in 1885


The naval base at Simonstown played a strategic role to the Allies during WW1. When WW2 broke out, the South African Naval

Service was virtually non-existent, with only three officers and three ratings. In January 1940 a new naval unit, called the Seaward Defence Force, was formed; and as part of the Union Defence Force, it was renamed ‘South African Navy’ in 1951.


Our 4th day in Cape Town was a lazy day spent wandering around the Simonstown Harbour, enjoying the music of a local busker, visiiting the Naval museum and on to Kalk Bay for lunch. 


This bronze statue of an SA Navy standby diver stands 

 at the end of the pier in Simonstown harbour looking 

  out over False Bay. The plaque reads “This statue

  stands as a symbol to all past, present and future  

   South African Navy divers. We protect and serve   

   confident in the knowledge that there will always be

    a fellow diver looking out for us. Ours is a 

    ‘brotherhood’ that transcends race, gender and creed.

     ‘Semper in excreta’” 

      These are among the many unsung heroes who 

       take part in many search and rescue operations

        along our coastline. 


“Just Nuisance”, as the dog became known, was born in 1937 in Rondebosch, Cape Town. As a pup he was

bought by the man in charge of the United Services Institute (USI), which was frequented mainly by Royal

Navy sailors, the Royal Navy at that time being in charge of the Simonstown Naval Base.


The dog, a great dane, soon grew to be massive and it was here in Simonstown that he became a legend.

He got his name by following the sailors around the naval base and dockyards and eventually onto the ships

moored in the harbor. His favourite spot was to lie on the deck at the top of the gangplank, with the result that

no-one could easily get past him and as he was loathe to move, sailors would say – “You’re just a nuisance,

why do you have to lie here of all places?!”


The dog loved travelling on the local trains and in 1939, when ticket collectors threatened to call in the SPCA, the Navy decided to ‘enlist’ Just

Nuisance, under the christian name of Bone Crusher, with his religious denomination listed as ‘Scrounger’. This saved the dog as, now that he

was enlisted, he was entitled to free travel on the trains!


Just Nusiance was known to step in to stop many a drunken brawl and also commandeer the sailor’s beds, leaving them with nowhere to sleep.

When, in 1944, at the age of 7, with thrombosis slowly paralyzing him, it was decided to put him to sleep and he was buried with full Naval

military honours. A simple granite headstone marks his grave site at Klaver Camp on top of Red Hill. Just Nuisance fathered 5 puppies, and

these were auctioned off to raise money for war funds. There is a “Just Nuisance Commemoration Day Parade” on 1 April when great danes

from all over come to compete in a Just Nuisance Look-alike competition. 


The aerial ropeway crossing the Main Road in Simonstown was operated between 1904 and 1934 and took supplies and personnel from the West Dockyard to the Royal Naval Hospital built on the mountainside and the Sanatorium built above the town. Operations ceased in the late 1930’s.


Funnel emblem off the SAS Tafelberg

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In the course of normal operations, naval vessels often engage in extremely close-quarter manoeuvres; and collisions, while umcommon, do occur. One such collision, in 1982, was between the combat support ship SAS Tafelberg and the frigate SAS President Kruger during a submarine screening exercise. The President Kruger sank with the loss of 16 lives.


Due to the force of the impact, a section of the President Kruger’s shipside plating was ripped off, and embedded in the thicker steel of the Tafelberg. 



SAS Natal’s ships bell. In 1956 the vessel was converted into an hydrgraphic survey ship and was sunk in 1972 whilst being used as a gunnery and depth charge target.


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1-pounder saluting gun recovered from the “Rygersdal”, a Dutch East India vessel shipwrecked of Silverstroomstrand in 1747.

The Leyland Cub fire engine was manufactured in England in 1935 and taken into service in Simonstown in 1939. It served Simonstown during WW2 and stayed active until the mid 1970’s.



Subsonic and high speed sea skimming drone targets. 

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Navigation instruments of old

Stained glass window in the chapel at the Naval Museum. 


Its the first time either Paul or I had been into the museum and were both glad we did. A wonderful morning out but tummy’s were grumbling and throats felt like sandpaper so we headed to Kalk Bay for lunch.


The Brass Bell restaurant gave us a magnificent view of Fish Hoek and the waves breaking over the harbour wall!




2 responses to “Home again #8 – part 5 – a bit of history.”

  1. Cheryl Wilkinson says:

    Amazing photos S! I love the history the Cape has most people don’t know much about our Navy base etc.

  2. Pauline Smith says:

    Makes me want to go to the beach and watch the waves

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