LOOK: Historic minesweeper partially sinks at Durban Maritime Museum
Durban - A 60-year-old minesweeper that has pride of place at the Durban (Port Natal) Maritime Museum as a floating exhibit partially sank in the Durban Harbour on Monday night.
An investigation is now underway to ascertain exactly what led to the recently refurbished SAS Durban sinking.
Captain Justin Adams, Acting Harbour Master at the Port of Durban said the vessel is understood to have taken on water overnight on 29 June and sunk partially in shallow water with no individuals onboard.
"The eThekwini Municipality has engaged the services of a diving company to investigate the cause and to try to right the vessel. There are no concerns about pollution as the vessel was dry and clean without any oil onboard," he said.
Ethekwini spokesman, Msawakhe Mayisela said: “We are working together with the Transnet Ports Authority and the Southern African Shipyards. There are no injuries or fatalities reported. There was also no oil spillage as a result of the ship sinking. Once we have concluded the investigation we will communicate our next course of action.”
The sinking comes just months after the SAS Durban was returned to the Maritime Museum after it underwent refurbishment.
Since August 2019, the JR More, a 59-year-old tug and the SAS Durban, a wooden minesweeper from the same era that are both floating exhibtions at the museum were sent to local ship repair company Southern African Shipyards for refurbishment.
On the SAS Durban, the ship repair teams repaired damaged and rotten woodwork.
Both these vessels had extensive underwater repairs that were urgently required to stop the ingress of water on various plates on their hulls.
The SAS Durban and was officially handed over to the museum by then Chief of the Navy, Vice- Admiral Glen Syndercomber in May 1988.
SAS Durban is one of the last surviving ‘Ton’ class minesweepers developed originally for the Royal Navy and later introduced in several navies, among them is South African. SAS Durban was the first naval ship to be built for the South African Navy, as opposed to ships transferred from the Royal Navy.
About 120 of this type of wooden-hulled minesweepers were built with over 30 of those going to commonwealth countries.
South Africa received the largest number – ten of which the first eight were transferred from the Royal Navy with the SAS Durban and SAS Windhoek were ordered and built specifically for the SA Navy.