HMS Thames (1885)

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"General Botha" redirects here. For the political and military leader, see Louis Botha.
For other ships with the same name, see HMS Thames.
HMS Thames launched.jpg
HMS Thames just after launching
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Thames
Namesake: River Thames
Builder: Pembroke Dockyard
Laid down: 1884
Launched: 3 December 1885
Commissioned: 1888
Reclassified: Submarine depot ship, 1903
Homeport: Harwich
Fate: Sold 1920
South Africa
Name: SATS General Botha
Namesake: Louis Botha
Christened: 1 April 1922
Acquired: November 1920
Commissioned: March 1922
Decommissioned: 1942
Renamed: Thames, 1942
  • Training ship, 1922
  • Accommodation ship, 1942
Homeport: Simonstown
Fate: Scuttled on 13 May 1947
General characteristics
Class and type: Mersey-class second class cruiser
Displacement: 4,050 tons
Length: 315 ft (96 m)
Beam: 46 ft (14 m)
Draught: 19 ft (6 m)
Propulsion: Coal-fired boilers, reciprocating steam engines, twin shaft
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h)
Complement: 10 officers and 290 ratings
Armour: 2.00"

HMS Thames was a Mersey-class second class protected cruiser of the Royal Navy. She later served in South African under the name SATS General Botha as a training ship for merchant navy cadets.


Royal Navy[edit]

The ship did not see any action as a cruiser. On 21 March 1902 she was temporarily commissioned by Captain H. L. Fleet, with crew from HMS Empress of India, to serve as a port guard ship at Queenstown, while the latter ship was undergoing alterations.[1] In 1903, was converted to a submarine depot ship.

South Africa[edit]

General Botha in 1925
Memorial in Cape Town for SATS General Botha graduates who died during World War II

She was sold to the Jersey-born South African entrepreneur TB Davis in November 1920 as a memory to his son who died during World War I. He donated it to a trust, with the stipulation that it be used exclusively for the nautical training of British and South African boys, so that they could subsequently serve in ships of the British Empire.

HMS Thames was renamed South African Training Ship (SATS) General Botha. She directly contributed to the establishment of the South African Navy.[2] and was based at the Simonstown naval base.

From 1942, she served as an accommodation ship, once again under the name Thames, before finally being scuttled on 13 May 1947 in False Bay. There exists an alumni association for those who served aboard General Botha, which has the Duke of Edinburgh as her patron.[3]

The South African Naval Museum in Simonstown has an exhibition dedicated to the ship.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence" The Times (London). Saturday, 22 March 1902. (36722), p. 14.
  2. ^ "Newsletter". South African Military History Society. September 1997. 
  3. ^ "Charities and Special Occasions". British Monarchy. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Grutter, Wilhelm. A Name Among Seafaring Men: A history of the training ship General Botha. T. B. F. Davis Memorial Sailing Trust. ISBN 0-620-01151-3. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°13′48″S 18°37′48″E / 34.23000°S 18.63000°E / -34.23000; 18.63000