History of SAS Saldanha

The grassroots of the local Naval presence in Saldanha can be traced to the Second World War, when in 1941, as a result of increased pressure on Table Bay; a new Allied harbour was sought. Saldanha Bay, with its sheltered moorings was the ideal location.

The South African Seaward Defence Force and a Minesweeping flotilla was established in 1942 for seaward and harbour protection. On Baviaanskop, Elands Bay, Malgaskop and Hoedjiespunt, 6 inch and 12 inch guns were installed. Anti-submarine nets were laid in North Bay and eight lines of moored mines and a control centre on land protected the entrance of Saldanha Bay. Members of the South African Women's Auxiliary Naval Services, previously known as SWANS manned the controls and detection equipment.

Between June 1942 and September 1943, nearly 450 ships had called in and dropped anchor in the bay. On 1 June 1944, a SWAN named Susan Labuschagne created "The Night Of The Great Event in Saldanha Bay/The Death Watch" by detonating two lines of the controlled mine field. She claimed she saw a submarine on her screen. Although the result was spectacular, no evidence of the said submarine was ever found.

All the British living quarters became the property of the SA Navy on 14 June 1944. In 1948 the training establishment HMSAS Field Marshall Smuts moved from Saldanha to Salisbury island in Durban. However, the base at Saldanha soon reverted to a training atmosphere in 1951 when the Naval Gymnasium was set up with 44 trainees reporting for a year's training.

Before the unit was christened SAS Saldanha on 1 March 1956, it was known as the "Naval and Marine Gymnasium" and "SAS Drommedaris." With the implementation of 12 months compulsory National Service, SAS Saldanha started training recruits from both the National Service and the Permanent Force. Two important dates in the unit's history are 20 March 1981 when the Freedom of Vredenburg/Saldanha was awarded to the unit, and 30 March 1990 when the Unit Colour was awarded to the unit.

In May 1989 SAS Saldanha became a Naval Base with the added responsibility to still function as a unit. This was maintained until 1990 when, due to rationalisation, it reverted back to a pure training unit. From these humble beginnings, emerged one of the cornerstones of the modern South African Navy, and one of the premier military training establishments on the continent.

The training that currently takes place at SAS Saldanha is divided into three parts, namely the NGP (MSD) Training, Military Training for Ratings Part 2 (MTR 2) and Military Training for Ratings Part 3 (MTR 3).

Previous Officers Commanding (OC)

OC HMSAS Field Marshall Smuts
Lieutenant Commander D.W. Fairbairne 1945
 Lieutenant Commander P. Selk  Until December 1948
OC Naval Gymnasium
Lieutenant Commander J.C.C. Rice 14 January 1951 - 1952
OC SAS Drommedaris
Lieutenant Commander P. Selk  1953 - September 1954
Commander J. Johnson  September 1954 - February 1956
OC SAS Saldanha 
Commander J. Johnson  March 1956 - April 1957
Captain S.C. Biermann  May 1957 - December 1963
Commander G. Joubert  December 1963 - March 1966
Commander J.J. Nieuwoudt  March 1966 - January 1967
Captain W. G. Van Der Merwe  February 1967 - September 1976
Captain J.J.F. Carstens  April 1977 - July 1978
Captain M.H. Heyns  August 1978 - January 1982
Captain A.P. Burgers  January 1982 - August 1984
Captain S. v.H. du Toit  18 January 1985 - 1 December 1989
Captain P.C. Crathorne 1  December 1989 - 14 July 1993
Captain J.E. Louw  14 July 1993 - 31 December 1995
Captain R.L.N. Erleigh  1 January 1996 - 31 January 2000
Captain E.H. Lochner  1 February 2000 - 23 January 2003
Captain R. Shelley  24 January 2003 - to date

Previous Masters at Arms (MAA)

Warrant Officer (Class 1) M.J. Forbes  1965 - 1973
Warrant Officer (Class 1) S.L. Frazer  1974 - 1978
Warrant Officer (Class 1) G.L. Buys  1978 - 1980
Warrant Officer (Class 1) D.C. Swart  1981 - 1982
Warrant Officer (Class 1) T.P. Pelser  1982 - 1984
Warrant Officer (Class 1) P.E. Krone  1984 - 1986
Warrant Officer (Class 1) J. Terblanche  1987 - 1991
Warrant Officer (Class 1) J.H.N. Roodman  1991 - 1997
Warrant Officer (Class 1) J.A. Vorster  1997 - 2002
Warrant Officer (Class 1) S.J. Jacobs  2002 - to date




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revision date: Thursday, January 11, 2018
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