SAS President Kruger (F150)
|Career (South Africa)|
|Builder:||Yarrow Shipbuilders, Scotstoun 6 April 1960|
|Laid down:||6 April 1960|
|Launched:||20 October 1960|
|Christened:||President Kruger, F150|
|Commissioned:||3 October 1962 at Scotstoun, Glasgow|
|Fate:||Sunk in 1982 in a collision with SAS Tafelberg|
|Class & type:||President-class frigate|
|Displacement:||2144 tons (2557 tons loaded)|
|Length:||370 ft (110 m)|
|Beam:||41 ft (12.5 m)|
|Draught:||18 ft (5.5 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 shafts, 2 steam turbines, 2 boilers, 25,000 shp (19 MW)|
|Speed:||28 knots (52 km/h)|
|Range:||4,500 nmi (8,300 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)|
|Armament:||Oerlikon 20 mm cannon|
|Aircraft carried:||1 × Westland Wasp helicopter|
SAS President Kruger was one of three President-class type 12 frigates obtained by the South African Navy in the 1960s following the Simonstown Agreement with the Royal Navy. She was christened upon launch by the wife of Admiral Hugo Biermann; her home port was Simonstown, near Cape Town.
On 5 August 1969, she was recommissioned after an extensive refit and modernization.
In 1976, this flagship of the South African Navy participated in an International Naval Review in New York as part of the bicentennial independence celebrations of the United States. In the process, she became the first South African naval vessel to visit the USA. She departed Simonstown on 3 June 1976, sailing via Walvis Bay, Abidjan and Las Palmas to Norfolk, Virginia. From there, she sailed in a fleet of 53 warships from 22 countries to New York for the Naval Review on 4 July. On 6 July, members of the ship's company paraded through the streets of New York, after which the President Kruger sailed home to Simonstown via Charleston, South Carolina and Las Palmas. Politician Tony Leon was the official photographer for this journey.
End of life
The aging President Class frigates were earmarked for disposal in 1978, with newer D'Estienne d'Orves class vessels scheduled to replace them. However the imposition of United Nations Security Council Resolution 418 put an end to both the sale of the replacement corvettes, as well as any refurbishment of the President Class frigates.
Accident and sinking
On 18 February 1982, while under the command of Captain de Lange, the President Kruger was conducting complex exercises with her sister ship the SAS President Pretorius, the submarine SAS Emily Hobhouse and the replenishment ship SAS Tafelberg. The high-intensity exercises progressed from 6 am to 11 pm over several days, with different candidate submarine captains being given an opportunity of executing a mock attack against the Tafelberg. From 11 pm until 6 am, the ships followed a narrow zip-zag course that allowed the submarine repeated opportunities to engage the surface ships in lower-intensity exercises while the bulk of the crew rested.
The frigates too were using the opportunity to carry out anti-submarine exercises, with each ship given a patrol sector ahead of the Tafelberg. The escorts were expected to patrol their areas in a random fashion, between 2,000 feet (610 m) and 5,000 feet (1,500 m) from Tafelberg. The President Kruger's station was on Tafelberg's port side between 10 and 330 degrees. The President Steyn had a reciprocal box on the starboard side.
At approximately 4 am, the whole formation had to change direction by 154 degrees, a near complete reversal in direction. The frigates had to change direction first to maintain their protective positions ahead of Tafelberg on the new heading. President Kruger's options were to turn 200 degrees to port, or 154 degrees to starboard. While the latter turn was smaller and tactically sound, it was more dangerous as it involved turning towards the other two ships. Critically, the officer of the watch (OOW) elected to turn to starboard, and initiated a 10 degree turn. A 10 degree turn had a larger radius and would take longer to execute than a 15 degree turn, thereby allowing Tafelberg more time to close on the ship turning in front of her. Partway through the turn, the operations room lost radar contact with the Tafelberg in the clutter. At that point, an argument ensued between the OOW and the Principal Warfare Officer over the degree of wheel to apply. The OOW was unable to recover the situation, and the bows of the Tafelberg impacted the President Kruger on her port side at the senior ratings' mess. The President Kruger sank 78 nautical miles (144 km) south west of Cape Point,killing 16 people.
A naval board of inquiry was commissioned, leading to a finding of a lack of seamanship by the captain and officers of the ship. The Minister of Justice introduced a retrospective change in law to allow him to hold an inquest into the death of one of the seamen. The inquest aportioned blame on the captain and PWO. However none of the officers was court-martialled.
As a result of an international arms embargo against apartheid South Africa, the ship could not be replaced, and was therefore a great loss to the capability and morale of the navy for many years afterwards.
- Friedman 2006, p. 337.
- Kemble 1974.
- Wessels 2012.
- Steenkamp 1983, p. 107.
- Bennett 2009.
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- "22 Squadron". 30 October 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
- Bennett 2009, p. 7.
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- Steenkamp 1983, p. 115.
- Bennett, Chris (June 2006). Three Frigates - The South African Navy comes of Age. Just Done Productions. ISBN 1-920169-02-4.
- Bennett, Chris (11 May 2009). "The Loss of the President Kruger". Defenceweb.co.za. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Friedman, Norman (2006). British Destroyers and Frigates. MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 1861761376.
- Kemble, John Haskell (1974). Shipbuilding and Shipping Record: A Journal of Shipbuilding, Marine Engineering, Docks, Harbours & Shipping 78.
- Major Willem Steenkamp (1983). Borderstrike! South Africa into Angola 1975 - 1980. Just Done Productions. ISBN 1-920169-00-8. Retrieved 14 October 2007.
- "New Book Spooks Leon". Mail & Guardian. 9 November 2006. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Wessels, Andre (20 April 2007). The South African Navy During The Years of Conflict In Southern Africa, 1966-1989. Sabinet Online Ltd. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
- Wessels, André (May 2012). "Flag-Showing Cruises By South African Warships, 1922-2002". South African Navy. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to F150 President Kruger (ship, 1962).|
|Paintings of SAS President Kruger|
|Photographs of the SAS President Kruger|
|Photograph at SAAF museum|