SAS Pietermaritzburg

SAS Pietermaritzburg entering the Knysna Heads in 1953

It has been brought to the attention of the Society and the Civic Association that a salvor has been cutting and recovering steel from the wreck of the SAS Pietermaritzburg.
This ship was scuttled off Miller’s Point to act as an artificial reef. Apart from serving the South African Navy for many years the Pietermaritzburg, originally named HMS Pelorus, led the D-Day Invasion fleet on the 6th June 1944. Many feel that in the light of this ship’s history it should be left as is.

In order for a provisional protection order to be placed on the wreck it requires a meeting to be held at which the public must express their desire in this respect, a meeting will therefore be held at the Simon’s Town Museum and to which all interested parties are invited to attend.

Venue: Simon’s Town Museum
Date: Monday 30th July 2012
Time: 17h30

Eric Mawhinney
Simon’s Town Historical Society


HMS Pelorus (J291) was an Algerine-class minesweeper, built by Lobnitz of Renfrew, Scotland and launched on 19 June 1943. While equipped with minesweeping gear, she was primarily assigned to convoy escort duty in the Atlantic. In 1944, she led the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

In 1947 the ship was sold to the South African Navy and renamed HMSAS Pietermaritzburg (and later SAS Pietermaritzburg). Still afloat well into the 1990s, many people wished to turn the ship into a maritime museum, but instead she was scuttled on 12 November 1994 to make an artificial reef atMiller’s Point near Simon’s Town, South Africa.

The wreck settled upright on the sand and remained fully intact for a number of years. During storms in 2006, the wreck was badly damaged and broke into three parts. However there are still a few places for divers to penetrate, therefore still making it a good wreck to dive. It houses abundant marine life and is a safe haven for a many species of fish. Maximum depth is 22 metres (72 ft) on the sand.

The Pelorus displaced 850 tons and had a crew complement of 85 men. Her armament consisted of a single 4″ antiaircraft gun, and four 20 mm guns. She was powered by reciprocating engines generating 2000 shp driving two shafts.


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Admiral H Biermann SSA SD (OBE) (1916-2012)

29 March 2012


The South African Navy notes the recent tragic passing of Admiral Hugo Biermann SSA SD (OBE) with deep regret.

His contribution to supporting the collective endeavours of the international maritime community will be long remembered, and his tragic death mourned by navies throughout the world.

Admiral Biermann will long be remembered in the annals of our Naval History. He presided over the creation of our Country’s first fleet, and commanded as the first Chief of the South African Navy from 1958 – 1972, and office which he held with distinction. He also held office as Commander Maritime Defence, and served as the Chief of the South African Defence Force from 1972-1976.

His is a legacy which is known and respected by so very many of us. His professionalism, keen sense of duty, and pride in matters maritime served as an example to all who knew him, and he has come to epitomise much that we seek to be as naval professionals.

The legacy created by Admiral Biermann will serve as an inspiration to navies universally for many years to come.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.

ISSUED BY: South African Navy Headquarters