Naval Base Simon's Town

Coordinates: 34°10′59″S 18°25′59″E / 34.18306°S 18.43306°E / -34.18306; 18.43306
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Naval Base Simon's Town
Near Simon's Town in  South Africa
A view of Simon's Town and the naval base
Naval Base Simon's Town is located in Western Cape
Naval Base Simon's Town
Location within the South African Western Cape
Coordinates34°10′59″S 18°25′59″E / 34.18306°S 18.43306°E / -34.18306; 18.43306
TypeNaval base
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defence (South Africa)
OperatorSouth African Navy
Controlled bySouth African National Defence Force
WebsiteSouth African Naval Museum, Simon's Town
Site history
Built1743 (1743)

Naval Base Simon's Town is the South African Navy's largest naval base, situated at Simon's Town, near Cape Town. The base provides support functions to Fleet Command.[1]


A small dockyard facility was first established in Simon's Town by the Dutch East India Company in 1743. This was taken over by the British Royal Navy (RN) in the 1790s, under whom the facility was further developed over the following century and a half. A pair of handsome stone storehouses dating from the 1740s stand on the seafront where they were built by the Dutch East India Company, marking the initial location of the Yard. Immediately adjacent is the earliest Royal Naval building on the site: a combined mast-house, boathouse and sail loft; dating from 1815, it now serves as the South African Naval Museum.[2]

Over the next few decades, the site was developed gradually, with steam engineering and coaling facilities being added mid-century. In 1885, the government of the Cape Colony transferred the assets of the Simon's Bay Dock and Patent Slip Company to the British Admiralty.[3] By the close of the century, however, it became clear that more space would be needed to accommodate the requirements of a modern Navy. In 1898, a large site was acquired to the east of the original Yard for a dockyard extension. Sir John Jackson and Co Ltd. were chosen to do the work.[3]

Construction began in 1900. The new harbour encompassed an area of 11 hectares, with a breakwater of 914 metres (3,000 ft) in length. It also contained a drydock 240 metres (790 ft) long and 29 metres (95 ft) wide, with a sizeable steam factory constructed alongside. The drydock was named the Selborne Graving Dock after the Earl of Selborne, the High Commissioner of the Cape.[3] Work on the Simon's Town dockyard was completed in 1910.[3]

The naval base was handed over to South Africa in 1957 under the Simonstown Agreement.[4]

The Dockyard was expanded in 1975, a large area of land was reclaimed and the harbour walls were extended to form a new Tidal Basin.[5]

Current status[edit]

As of December 2015, it is the main base of the South African Navy, and home port of the frigate and submarine flotillas. The base also houses training facilities for the frigates and submarines. In December 2015, Naval Base Durban in Durban harbour was redesignated back to a fully fledged naval base and home port of the offshore patrol flotilla.[6][7]



  1. ^ Bennett, C. H. & Söderlund, A. G. (2008). South Africa's Navy : A Navy of the People and for the People. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-620-41446-3.
  2. ^ Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet. Swindon: English Heritage.
  3. ^ a b c d Goosen, C (1973). South Africa's Navy - the first Fifty years. W. J. Flesch & partners. pp. 131–132. ISBN 0-949989-02-9.
  4. ^ Lawrie, G C (1968). "Simonstown Agreement: South Africa, Britain and the Commonwealth". South African Law Journal. 85: 162.
  5. ^ "Simon's Town Map". Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  6. ^ Kim Helfrich (23 April 2014). "New Navy Chief upbeat on OPVs, NS Durban and hydrographic survey". Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  7. ^ Helfrich, Kim (2015-12-09). "Minister says it's Naval Base Durban, not Station". Retrieved 2015-12-09.