Naval History Homepage and Site Search



by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2005

HMSAS NATAL (K 430) - Loch-class Frigate
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMSAS Natal (Photo Ships, click to enlarge) return to Contents List   

LOCH-Class Frigate ordered from Swan Hunter at Newcastle on 13th February 1943 with four others of this Class. The ship was laid down as Job Number J4835 (Yard Number 1788) on 18th October 1943 and was launched on 19th June 1944 as HMS LOCH CREE. She was the first RN ship to bear this name but as the ship was to be transferred to the South African Naval Force (SANF) it was formally changed in January 1945 to HMSAS NATAL. This name was introduced in 1905 for a cruiser which blew up in 1915. It was also used by two minor RN warships during WW2. Build was completed on 8th March 1945 and she was manned by South African naval personnel.


G e o g r a p h i c   L o c a t i o n s


LOCH CREE - Grid Reference for River in Galloway NX7038

NATAL - Province in Republic of South Africa.


H e r a l d i c   D a t a


Badge: On a field azure, two Black wildebeest in full course at random, Or;

within a circular border of cable also Or, ensigned with the crest of the

Arms of the Republic of South Africa proper, upon a tablet Azure

bordered and bearing the name NATAL in letters .



D e t a i l s   o f   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search



1 9 4 5




1st - Commissioned for service in South African Naval Force. Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Commander D S Hall DSC SANF.


8th - Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.


Allocated for service in 8th Escort Group, Western Approaches Command. (Note: Other ships in Group were: HM Frigates LOCH MORE, LOCH ACHRAY, LOCH GLENDHHU and AIRE. This ship was the second of three LOCH Class Frigates to be presented to South Africa and one of the first major warships in the SANF. )


12th - Prepared for work-up at Tobermory for operation service.


14th - Sailed from Tyne estuary to Methil. Took part in search for U714 with HM Destroyer WIVERN after Norwegian ss MAGNE had been sunk whilst in convoy. Carried out attack on submarine as a result of which oil and wreckage was observed on the surface. Ship credited with sinking U714. (Note: SEAGULLS IN MY BELFRY by Rear Admiral CC Anderson, who was in command of HMS WIVERN gives a different account which suggest that U714 was not sunk but had sustained serious damage. He claims that the submarine was destroyed in a series of depth charge attacks later in the day. Awards made to ship's company were two DSC, two DSM with five Mentioned in Despatches.)


No British Battle Honour is recorded in official Record. (See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp and HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.)


(See SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann and U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO) for details of weapons and U-Boat deployments.).


17th - Worked-up at Tobermory.




On completion joined Group based at Greenock. Deployed for convoy defence and anti-submarine search operations in Irish Sea and SW Approaches.


23rd - At Milford Haven




Taken in hand for repair in Clyde shipyard. (Note: After VE Day nominated for return to South Africa.)




Passage to South Africa with HMAS GOOD HOPE (Ex HMS LOCH ARD). Called at Freetown.


30th - Arrived at Cape Town.




Passage to Durban with call at Port Elizabeth. Prepared for service with British East Indies Fleet




20th - Took passage to Singapore from Durban. (Note: This is at variance with details in WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO), THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton, both of which record ship as being in the East Indies Fleet on VJ Day. It is assumed the ship had joined the Fleet but not deployed in the operational area on VJ Day.)




1st - Escorted convoy from Colombo to Singapore.


On arrival at Singapore deployed for convoy escort in Strait of Malacca. Deployed as Guardship at Padang, Sumatra in place of HM Cruiser NIGERIA. On release from Guardship duty resumed convoy defence in Malacca Strait.




Deployment at Singapore with East Indies Escort Force in continuation.




Nominated for transport of South African personnel from Egypt. Took passage to Durban with call at Mauritius.


30th - Arrived at Durban




Prepared for trooping duties. Passage to Suez.



1 9 4 6




4th - Sailed from Suez to Durban with returning personnel.


19th - At Durban.


February to March


Trooping duties in continuation. (Note: Two round trips with South African service personnel were completed.)


On release from trooping duties returned to Cape Town.




Deployed at Capetown. (Note: Reorganisation of Naval Service on a permanent basis made necessary the reduction of complement of the ship.).


May to December


Deployed at Capetown with reduced manning. Operational availability limited. Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Commander R P Dryden Dymond SANF. (Later Commodore, SM, ED, SAN.)


Prepared for planned operation.



1 9 4 7




Full complement available for operational deployment.


7th - Took passage to relieve HMSAS TRANSVAAL at Marion Island. (Note: The Sovereignty of Marion Island by the Government of the Union of South Africa was formally declared on 29th December 1946 and that of nearby Prince Edward Island on 4th January 1947. These two isolated territories were annexed to prevent occupation by a foreign power and therefore considered to have strategic value as missile bases (Operation SNOEKTOWN).)


12th - Arrived at Marion Island after meeting HMSAS TRANSVAAL for transfer of charts and and local weather information.


14th - Unloading of equipment suspended due to weather conditions at anchorage. Slipped cable and sailed for open waters.


18th - Returned to anchorage and resumed unloading. Cut path through kelp to allow entry of supply ship HMSAS GAMTOOS to Transvaal Cove.


28th - Relieved by HMSAS GOOD HOPE. (Note: Unloading of equipment from HMSAS GAMTOOS had been severely affected by the prevailing weather conditions.)


29th - Took passage to Cape Town from Marion Island.




Deployed at Cape Town.




Took passage to Marion Island to relieve HMSAS GOOD HOPE.


7th - Arrived at Marion Island with supplies including aviation fuel and livestock.


20th - Made return passage to Cape Town with personnel of Construction Party. (Note: This completed the first phase of the establishment of a permanent base. Technical assistance was given by ships staff to provide electric power supplies and other domestic facilities.)




Took part in ceremonies to mark visit to South Africa by HM King George VI, HM Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. (Operation TOT SIENS). (Note: Ships of the SAN provided escort for HM Battleship VANGUARD on departure from Capetown with Royal Family embarked.)


May to December


Deployed with SAN ships for patrol, visits and exercises.



1 9 4 8

 SAN operational deployment in continuation.



1 9 4 9


January to February


SAN operational deployment in continuation.


March to April


Deployed for hydrographic survey in Marion Island area by Commander Tripp SAN. Two visits to the area were made Commanding Officer: Commander M R Terry-Lloyd SAN (Later Rear Admiral, SSA, SM.)


May to November


Operational service with SAN in continuation.


Nominated for refit




Under refit by HM Dockyard, Simonstown.



1 9 5 0




Under refit.




Carried out post refit harbour and sea trials.


March to June


Resumed operational SAN service and carries out exercise programme with visits to east coast ports.




SAN deployment including visit to Durban.


August to December


Deployed at Cape Town. Commanding Officer: Commander A A C Ouvry DSC SAN.



1 9 5 1


SAN deployment in continuation including visit to Marion Island in October



1 9 5 2


Reduced to Care and Maintenance on relief by HMSAS SIMON VAN DER STEL. (Note: This ship, the former RN destroyer HMS WHELP, which had been laid up in Reserve at Simonstown since 1947. She was transferred to the SAN in 1952 and commissioned as a replacement.)



1 9 5 3   t o   1 9 5 4


Laid -up at Cape Town.



1 9 5 5


Routine docking period at HM Dockyard Simonstown. Selected for conversion for use as a Survey Ship similar to Royal Navy DAMPIER type.



1 9 5 6


Taken in hand for conversion.



N o t e    o n    C o n v e r s i o n


Electronic surveying equipment fitted to reduce reliance en the use of visual methods of survey. This significantly reduced the length of time taken and enabled surveying to be done when beyond sight of land and at night.


SAS Natal as survey ship (Photo Ships)


1 9 5 7


January to September


Under refit and conversion.




Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to A301.


25th - Commissioned for service. Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Commander J C Walters SAN (H).


Post refit trials and prepared for hydrographic duty


November to December


Deployed for International Geophysical Year duty. Carried out cruise to south as far south as 51.30S. Bathythermograph and hydrographic sounding recordings made.



1 9 5 8


January to May


Deployed for investigation of shoal water off Cape Agulhas and St Helena Bay. Carried out survey using ship's launches in Lamberts Bay.


June to December


Deployed for International Geophysical Year service. Carried out cruise in southern waters (Note: Survey tasks were restricted by bad weather and area assigned was not fully covered.)



1 9 5 9


January to October


Carried out further coastal water surveys including extensive examination of shoal water in St Helena Bay, Port Shepstone, Port St Johns, Cape Morgan, South Sand Bluff and Dakand Point. Deployed to survey planned route for undersea cable near Milnerton and Table Bay.




Deployed as Relief Ship for support of Base at Marion Island. (Note: Hydrographic sounding were recorded during passages. Carried stores and replenishment supplies for Marion Island.)




Resumed hydrographic survey programme.



1 9 6 0   t o   1 9 6 1


Deployed for hydrographic surveys in coastal areas around Cape of Good Hope. (Note: These included NE shore of Robben Island, Simons Bay, Gordons Bay and NE part of False Bay.)


Western part of False Bay over Whittle Rock were examined by underwater swimmers Survey was also made of Agulhas Bank south of Mossel Bay (Note: Electronic position fixing using DECCA system was used when visual contact sighting was not possible.)


Final stage in 1961 included examination of shoal areas off Bok Point between Cape Town and Soldahna and survey of approaches to Port St Johns between Port Elizabeth and Durban. Sweep was carried out for obstructions off Dakana Pt. (Note: After the formation of the Republic of South Africa warships were no longer designated HMSAS and identified by the prefix SAN.)



1 9 6 2


Deployed for International Geophysical research in Indian Ocean. (Note: Eleven cruises were carried out. During final cruise new seamount discovered with a depth below 10 fathoms in position 685 miles south of Madagascar on the Madagascar Ridge.) Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Commander C J F Netterberg DSC SAN (H) (May)



1 9 6 3


Resumed SAN Hydrographic duties and deployed for coastal surveys. Commanding Officer: Commander JC Walters, SAN(H) (January)


Extensive surveys included coastal waters between Walker Point and Storms River which were completed in four months. (Note: Completion before planned date was possible because of the availability of the the electronic equipment. See above.)


Commanding officer: Lieutenant Commander A Fawthrop SAN (H) (November),



1 9 6 4


January to May


Deployed for SAN Hydrographic survey work in coastal area between Walker Point and Cape St Blaize, Mossel Bay.


June to July


Resumed International Geophysical Year oceanographic work. Carried out running line surveys in Indian Ocean starting at Cape St Lucia and taking passage across the Agulhas current between oceanographic stations. Scientists from Cape Town university were embarked Detached party carried out detailed survey of North Bay, Saldahana.




During surveys off Cape St Lucia, Zululand experienced heavy weather. About one week later whilst 180 miles SE of Durban sustained structural damage. (Note: Some equipment was lost including a launch which was carried away from davits).


Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Commander A Fawthrop SAN (H)


September to December


Taken in hand for repair. Resumed International Geophysical Year deployment on completion.



1 9 6 5


Deployment for coastal survey between Mossel Bay and Duivenhoks Rivisr. Delivered survey launch to SAS HARLEEM for survey of harbour at Sildahana. Carried out investigation of area off False Cape Friuo near border with Angola to follow-up a report of breakers made in 1907. (Note: It was established that shipping should not approach the coast due to the existence of a pinnacled reef . Further survey by boats was needed at a later date and a Notice to Mariners was issued. Carried out extensive survey of approaches to Port St Johns, NE of East London.



1 9 6 6


Embarked expedition for passage to Bouvet Island (54 Degrees S 3 Degrees E) in South Atlantic (Note: Objective was to determine its feasibility for use as a meteorological station.)


Carried out survey around island and made oceanographic trading during passages. (Note: Geological and Meteorological assessments made did not support future use.)


Large scale survey carried out of Millers Point and of False Bay by a Detached Party as well as a survey of the approaches to Khysna harbour, Alphard Banks and St Helena Bay . (Note: These were completed with work between Duivenhoks river and Cape St Balize begun in 1965.)


A new coastal survey between Duivenhoks river and Cape Alguhas was started. Commanding Officer: Commander A Fawthrop SAN (H),



1 9 6 7


Coastal hydrographic work included completion of three investigations in Table Bay and survey of Luderitz harbour with SAS HARLEEM which carried out inshore work. Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Commander J B de Wet SAN (H) (From April).


Deployed for seismic survey work in conjunction with Department of Mines.



1 9 6 8


Carried out surveys en Zululand coast and in Richards Bay area. After completion in April resumed coastal survey east of Cape Agulhas (Note: During the night of 13th July ship was diverted to carry out search and rescue operation for survivors of tanker WORLD GLORY which had foundered to NE of Durban. Two survivors ware rescued and two bodies recovered. Commander De Wit was later awarded the Gold Medal of the Greek Maritime Marine for his services en this occasion.)



1 9 6 9


Richards Bay Coastal survey completed in April.


Carried out local surveys in Table Bay and on west coast of the peninsula. On completion resumed survey work between Cape Agulhas and Duivenoks river.


Commander A Fawthrop SAN (H) was appointed in command in November (Note: He was last to command her in service and remained until Paying-off in 1972.)



1 9 7 0


Completed Cape Agulhas to Duivenoks river survey in March.


Survey of area between Cape Haugklip and Cape Agulhas completed except for some inshore work which could be carried out by smaller vessel. A survey was made off Isipinga, south of Durban, to enable a mooring buoy to be used by large tankers for discharge of cargo without entering harbour (Note: The whole African coastline from the Mozambique border to St Helena Bay 140 miles north of Cape Town had been accurately surveyed by the end of the year.)



1 9 7 1


As a final contribution to hydrography the ship was deployed to calibrate the South West African and the Namagualand DECCA Chains. Before paying-of the ship visited Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban for a final visit to these ports with which she had been associated during her duties.



1 9 7 2


SAS NATAL paid off on 15th March after relief by the new purpose built Survey Ship SSN PROTEA which was similar in design to the RN HECLA Class vessels.



F i n a l   P h a s e


SAS NATAL was taken in tow to a position 14.5 miles SW of Cape Point in September 1572 and sunk by the frigate SAS PRESIDENT STEYN in September 1972. The signal recorded in  the Appendix paid well deserved tribute to the long service of the ship in war and peace as a warship and a survey vessel. 





During her hydrographic service NATAL covered some 250,000 miles and was acknowledged as being the most hard-worked ship in the SAN.


S i g n a l s   o f   R e c o g n i t i o n


The following congratulatory signals confirm the high regard in which this ship NATAL was held as a 'happy' and efficient ship:


                      FROM:                       Chief of the South African Navy

                      TO:                             Hydrographer SAN  (DTG  171435 March 1972)


           1.         It was with much sadness that I watched NATAL lower her Ensign for the last time on



           2.        There are officers and men still serving who knew NATAL when she was young though grey.

                      There are many others who knew her as a middle aged frigate and others who sailed in her when

                      she was old and white. All will remember her with pride and affection.


           3.        Soon she will be struck from the list but she passes with the knowledge that she has served

                      mariners of all nations.


           4         PROTEA takes over from a worthy predecessor.


On receipt of the final Report of Proceedings from the Commanding Officer of SAS NATAL in 1971 the South African Defence Ministry made the following signal to the ship.


                      "Throughout NATAL's life as a survey ship the passage has been one of hard work with

                      few 'flag -showing' visits to provide light relief. You can be satisfied that your tasks have

                      been well completed and that the ship will always be remembered with pride in the

                      history of the Navy. Well done!!"






by Don Kindell


This convoy list has not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








ON 297




(Note on Convoys)


back to Contents List
or Naval-History.Net

revised 10/6/11
further editing is required