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Peter Elrick: They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.

WO1. Piet van Zyl (TAS Ret): In 4 hours time 35 years ago we lost 16 friends, may they sleep well. For the 173 survivors we are gratefull for the grace of Almighty. I have tears in my eyes & heart. We salute all,and the ship, lest we forget. Lofty e-mail me.

DK Pillay: What a tragedy to lose shipmates and friends. What a fantastic crew. Rip

Charl Starke: 35 yrs ... seems like the other day

John Richardson: when on TFB I took 8mm cine doing RASwith PK and PS, tried to get on PK

Garth Coetzer: Was at school with Robyn Myers. A nicer guy you couldn't meet. I think he took a lot of the flack for this tragic incident at the time. Events clearer now from this report. We will indeed remember those who lost their lives in the early hours of that morning.

Cherylynn Wium: As always on Sunday 18th I will be remembering those men lost at sea and giving thanks for those brave men who made it back. Never to be forgotten!

Cherylynn Wium: 37 years. RIP never to be forgotten

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SAS President Kruger was launched at the Clyde shipyard of Yarrow and Company.

Under the terms of the 1955 Simonstown Agreement, South Africa undertook a 42 Million Rand expansion programme. As a consequence, three new modified Type 12M Frigates were ordered in 1957.

Launch of the PK, on 20th October 1960

The Rothesay Class, or Type 12M was designed for anti-submarine operations, and therefore required high speed and maneuverability, reduced noise and superb handling. The design and layout of the type was therefore geared towards this anti-submarine role, and specific features included the high forecastle. The result was to create a ship that was able to sustain adequate speed in almost any sea, and became known as fast, dry comfortable vessels. This hull design became the standard for British naval development for thirty years.

The SAS ‘PK’ enters Simonstown for the first time on 28th March 1963 to a huge welcome.

The equipment and profile of the three frigates changed over the years as the SA Navy’s modernisation programme kept pace.

1963 exercise with HMS Alliance (Image – Cape Times)

In this image taken in 1963 during an exercise with HMS Alliance the two limbo mortar installations can be seen. Note also the design and components of the two masts.  Also of interest is the fact that HMS Alliance can be seen as the core exhibit at the Royal Navy’s Submarine Museum in Gosport.



In this image, taken in the early 1970’s, the forward Limbo mortar has been removed to make way for the helicopter platform, and the two masts have undergone major alterations to accommodate the radar and communications equipment. The Springbok emblem can be seen on the funnel.

SAS President Kruger (F150) and SAS President Steyn in the early 1970’s

For over two decades the frigates patrolled South Africa’s maritime border, took part in operations off Angola and conducted good-will visits to Argentina in 1967, Australia in 1968 and New York.

In 1971, SAS President Kruger escorted the first Daphne submarine SAS Maria van Riebeeck (which was renamed SAS Spear in 1999) from Toulon, and SAS President Steyn made two voyages to France to escort the SAS Emily Hobhouse (which was renamed SAS Umkhonto in 1999) and SAS Johanna van der Merwe (which was renamed SAS Assegaai in 1999).

SAS President Steyn was decommissioned 1980 and served as an accommodation ship. She became a sad sight as she rusted quietly alongside in Simon’s Town, and ended her days as a target ship, to be sunk some ten years later.

SAS President Steyn – The last voyage.

SAS President Pretorius was decommissioned in July 1985 and seven years later made her final journey under tow to a breaker’s yard.

In 1982 SAS President Kruger was lost at sea, along with 16 of her crew.

HMS Plymouth

A total of 12 Rothesay class ships were constructed and used by the Royal Navy, the Royal New Zealand Navy and the South African Navy.One Rothesay class ship, HMS Plymouth is preserved, although currently under threat of being scrapped. HMS Rothesay and HMS Plymouth served until 1988, with HMS Plymouth playing a very active role in the Falklands War.

Specification when constructed

Displacement:2,150 tons / 2,560 tons full load
Length:370 ft o/a (113 m)
Beam:41 feet (12 m)
Draught:17.3 ft (5.3 m)
Propulsion:Y-100 plant; 2 x Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 2 English Electric steam turbines, 30,000 shp on 2 shafts
Speed:30 knots (56 km/h)
Range:400 tons oil fuel; 5,200 nautical miles (9,630 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radar Type 293Q target indication
Radar Type 277Q height finding
Radar Type 275 fire control on director Mark 6M
Radar Type 974 navigation
Type 1010 Cossor Mark 10 IFF
Sonar Type 174 search
Sonar Type 162 target classification

Sonar Type 170 attack Armament:1 x twin 4.5 inch Mark 6 gun
1 x 40 mm Bofors gun Mark 7
2 x Limbo A/S mortar Mark 10

12 x 21-in A/S torpedo tubes (removed or never shipped)

The modernisation included removing the Limbo mortar to form the flight deck, installing a hangar and resources for the operation of a Westland Wasp helicopter, and the replacement of the air search radar and fire control system among other alterations.