The South African Navy and Armscor have celebrated the centenary of the Simon’s Town Naval Dockyard and the Selborne dry dock. The dockyard is the SAN’s primary repair and refit yard. The opening of the dry dock was commemorated yesterday, one hundred years after it was put into Royal Naval service, with a parade and concert.
The history of the dockyard dates back to 1814, when the anchorage in False Bay became a British naval base. As Simon’s Town prospered and more and more ships used the port, the existing facilities became inadequate and the need for better facilities grew.
On July 27, 1900, a tender for the construction of a yard was awarded to Sir John Jackson Ltd. Having to cover an area of about 28.5 acres of construction, a great deal of material had to be used. This included Portland cement from England and granite blocks from Norway. The foundation stone was laid on November 15, 1906 and the dry dock was opened on November 3, 1910.
The Dockyard was formally handed to South Africa in 1957. Management of the facility was taken over by Armscor in 2007, but the facilities and associated structures remain the responsibility of the SAN.
The parade, officiated by Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, and Dr Popo Molefe, Chairman of Armscor, was followed by the unveiling of a plaque for the 33 men who died during the construction of the facility. The grand finale was an evening concert in the dry dock itself by the South African Navy Band.