Category: Natal


Our visit to Virgel is also undated, so I can only hazard a guess. Suffice to say that by the time we undertook this visit her sisters were no longer, and she was the only one of the three left behind. (Vergelegen, Constantia,  Morgenster). She carried the name Virgel from May 1988 till May 1991 which places my visit somewhere during that period 


S.A. VERGELEGEN/VERGELEGEN/VIRGEL (1969 – 1991) Affectionately known as the ‘VIRGIE’ within the fleet.

O.N. 350612 / IMO No. 6924375 Call Sign : ZSZV Port of Registry: Cape Town/South Africa Tonnage: 1969 – OSD. : 1969 – CSD 10608g/6182n/13156 S.Dwt : 1975 – OSD 8808g/4435 n/ : 1975 – CSD 12337g/6982n/15072 S.Dwt

Dim: 1969 – 168,2 x 22,8 x 12,8 m / Draught Maximum 9,15 / 9,55 m 1975 – 182,6 x 22,8 x 12,8 m / Draught Maximum 9,15 / 9,55 m

Eng: Two stroke single acting – 6 cylinder 900 x 1550 Sulzer 6RD90, MCR 15 000bhp (11 033 kW).x 122 RPM built by Uraga Heavy Industries Ltd., Tamashima/Japan. Fuel 1800.0 t (hvf), 195.0 (do), 51.0 t p/d at 20 knts (Service Output 12 750 BHP x 116 RPM) Fitted with 2 x 440kW/2 x 240kW generators 440V 60Hz a.c.

10/04/1969 Keel laid by Mitsui Zosen Fujinagata, Osaka/Japan (Yard No. 150) for South African Marine Corp. Ltd., Cape Town/South Africa.

02/07/1969 Launched by Mrs J.F.W. Haak as “S.A. VERGELEGEN” (ZAF). Completed 21/10/1969 by Mitsui Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd., Osaka/Japan as S.A. VERGELEGEN (ZAF) for South African Marine Corporation Ltd., Cape Town.  

Six hold motor general cargo with refrigeration capacity, fitted with 1 x 250 ton Stülcken derrick (fitted in Hamburg/Germany 1970), 1 x 30 ton Stülcken derrick, 18 x 5 ton derricks, with 18 winches. Accommodation for 4 passengers.

12/1969 arrives in Table Bay on maiden voyage.

Late 01/1970 Arrived in Hamburg to have 250 ton Stülcken derrick fitted. 11/05/1975 Lengthened by 14,38m at the Tamano Dockyard Co. Ltd., Tamano/Japan mainly for cellular cargo, with replacement of two 5 ton derricks with two 30 tonne derricks on the aft end of the Stülcken posts port/starboard. Grain Capacity 23 318m³ / Bale Capacity 21 413m³ / Insulated capacity 425m³.

21/05/1985 Transferred by South African Marine Corp. Ltd/ (Safmarine) Cape Town to Consolidated Operations Ltd. Kingstown / St Vincent and The Grenadines (ownership Capesal Co. Inc., Panama) (Safmarine Cape Town management) renamed VERGELEGEN (VCT) in Durban. Port of registry Kingstown, O.N. 2110 / Call Sign J8FF

16/05/1988 Renamed VIRGEL (VCT) by Capesal Co. Inc., in Cape Town and transferred to Rondeau Holdings A.G. Wollerau/Switzerland (Oriel Bulk Transport A.G) Sounion Management Ltd. St.Vincent (Safmarine Cape Town).

16/05/1991 Arrived Alang/India to be scrapped, having been sold to Indian breakers at $ 200/ldt by Oriel Bulk Transport A.G. St Vincent (Rondeau Holding A.G./Safmarine Cape Town).

28/05/1991 Dismantling commenced by Amar Shipbreaking Corp., Alang/India.

The image of Constantia below was taken very close to the end of her life too, while Morgenster was photographed in December 1986. 




© DRW 2016-2018. Created 18/12/2016. Information on Virgel provided by Cameron Mackenzie. 

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 13:26

John R.M. Chard VC

John Rouse Merriott Chard (21/12/1847 – 01/11/1897) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Anglo Zulu war at Rorke’s Drift in 1879.

The Citation reads:

“For gallant conduct at the Defence of Rorke’s Drift, 22nd and 23rd January 1879. The Lieutenant-General reports that had it not been for the example and excellent behaviour of Lieutenants Chard, Royal Engineers, and Bromhead, 24th Regiment, the defence of Rorke’s Drift would not have been conducted with the intelligence and tenacity which so eminently characterised it. The Lieutenant-General adds, that the success must in a great measure be attributable to the two young officers who exercised the chief command on the occasion in question.”

He is buried in St John the Baptist Churchyard, Hatch Beauchamp.


© DRW 2016-2018, created 31/10/2016. Images courtesy of Mark Green. 

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 07:53

Tugs of my past (2) 1980’s builds

Continuing where we left off from page 1

This page deals with the 1980’s built tugs, and once again I may not have images of all of the vessels as I was in Durban more than elsewhere. 

The first group are the 1980 built Voith Schneider tractor tugs.

Name Built Bollard pull Length Breadth Draft
Ben Schoeman (Shiraz) 1980 43 ton 35,6 11,0 5,69
W.H. Andrag (Chardonnay) 1980 43 ton 35,6 11,0 5,69
Paul Sauer (Pinotage) 1980 43 ton 35,6 11,0 5,69
Lourens Muller (Merlot) 1980 43 ton 35,6 11,0 5,69

Ben Schoeman

Ben Schoeman

Lourens Muller

Lourens Muller

The next group are the vessel’s that I saw the most in Durban, all are twin Schottel tractor tugs with the exception of Ibhayi that was a twin Z Peller pusher tug that was bought in Hong Kong due to a shortage of tugs at the time. She has only just recently (mid 2016) been laid up. 

Name Built Bollard pull Length Breadth Draft
 Otto Buhr (Umzumbe)  1982  39 Ton 32,5   9,5  6.07
 Jannie Oelofsen  (Nononti)  1982  41 ton  32,5  9,5  6,07
 Bertie Groenewald (Umvoti)  1983  40 ton 32,5   9,5  6,07
 Dupel Erasmus (Umsunduzi)  1983  40 ton  32,5  9,5  6,07
 Piet Aucamp (Inyalazi)  1984  34 ton  32,5  9,5  6,07
 Bart Grove (Umhlali)  1985  34 ton  32,5  9,5  6,07
 Ibhayi  1983 38 ton   28,608    3,70


Otto Buhr

Otto Buhr

Bertie Groenewald

Bertie Groenewald

Jannie Oelofsen

Jannie Oelofsen

Dupel Erasmus

Dupel Erasmus

Piet Aucamp

Piet Aucamp

Bart Grove

Bart Grove


Ibhayi (Image courtesy of Dayle at SA Transport)

The PG Joubert and JA Kruger are also worth mentioning because I do have a pic of the Joubert that was taken one night. Unfortunately neither feature on my list and I do not know when they were built. They were subsequently transferred to Namport and renamed Ondjaba (J.A.Kruger) and Omanda (P.G.Joubert).

PG Joubert

 There were  a series of twin screw workboats that were built by Dorman Long which operated in the ports. The two I am more familiar with were the Blue Jay in Port Elizabeth and the Reier in Durban.

Name Built Bollard pull Length Breadth Draft
Reier  1983  11 ton  19,5  5,5  3,0
Blue Jay  1983  11 ton  19,5  5,5  3,0
Strandloper  1983  11 ton  19,5  5,5  3,0
Kestrel  1983  11 ton  19,5  5,5  3,0

Reier (Durban)

Reier (Durban)

Blue Jay Port Elizabeth

Blue Jay: (Port Elizabeth)

The technical data for these posts comes from a 2001 document on craft dispositions.

Measurements are in metres.  Ibhayi images courtesy of Dayle Coombe, info on Ibhayi by Greg Stone and George Meyer.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 26/09/2016

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 07:56

Tugs of my past (1) 1970’s builds

I have always liked tugboats, and South Africa had some amazing steam powered vessels that are still admired by tug buffs long after they have passed on. In this series I am going to finally make a bit more sense of the tugs I grew to know during my time visiting Durban harbour. I do not have pics of each vessel but will do my best. Some of these tugs are no longer around, so these pics are really in memory of them.

The first group is the 1974 built Twin Voith Schneider tugs of which there were 4.

Name Built Bollard pull Length Breadth Draft
W. Marshall Clarke (Uhuva) 1974 43 ton 35,95 11.0 5.04
Jan Haywood (Indwa) 1974 43 ton 35,95 11.0 5.04
R.H. Tarpey (Uzavolo) 1974 43 ton 34.3 8.85  3.94
J.H. Botha (Ibhaku) 1974 43 ton 35.95 11.03 5.04


J H Botha

R H Tarpey

R H Tarpey

Jan Haywood

Jan Haywood

I do not seem to have an image of the Marshall Clarke, although there was a commerically available slide featuring her.

W Marshall Clarke

W Marshall Clarke

These tugs were based in Cape Town when I was ship hunting which is why I have so few images of them. Uhuva (now known as RB1) and Uzavolo (now known as RB3) are still active in Richards Bay (2016) while the Haywood and Botha were broken up around 2012.  

There were three other tugs built in 1976/7 that I have never seen or photographed so cannot display any images of them. All three are twin unit Voith Schneider. 

Name Built Bollard pull Length Breadth Draft
Jutten 1976 43 ton 37,3 11.0 5,29
Marcus 1976 43 ton 37,3 11,0  5,29
Meeuw 1977 43 ton 37,3 11,0 52,9

Two other 1970 builds I photographed in Port Elizabeth. These are Twin X Peller pusher tugs. There were actually three similar vessels, the third being the PJ Conradie, she was transferred to Walvis Bay in February 2001 and now is a part of Namport.  I do not have a photograph of her. The three sisters were built by Niigate Shipbuilding & Repair – Niigata, Japan.  

Name Built Bollard pull Length Breadth Draft
 PJC Du Plessis (Brenton) 1977 31 ton 35,02 9.02 4,13 
 Kobus Loubscher (Imonti) 1977 31 ton 35,02 9.02   4,13
 PJ Conradie (Mbabala) (1977?) (31 ton?) (35,02??) (9.02?) (4,13?)

PJC Du_Plessis

PJC Du_Plessis

Brenton (image  courtesy of Dayle Coombe of SA-Transport)

Brenton (image courtesy of Dayle Coombe of SA-Transport)

Kobus Loubscher

Kobus Loubscher

Imonti (image by Dayle Coombe of SA-Transport)

Imonti (image courtesy of Dayle Coombe of SA-Transport)

The last two of this group are my personal favourites and I saw them in Durban, they now live in East London and are still in service at the time of writing. The Coenie was the first tug that I ever sailed on. Both are Twin Z Peller tractor tugs

Name Built Bollard pull Length Breadth Draft
Coenie De Villiers (Umthwalume) 1978 43 ton 35,62 11.0 5,56 
Dirk Coetsee (Mpunzi) 1978 43 ton 35,62 11.0 5,56

Coenie De Villiers and Dirk Coetsee

Coenie De Villiers and Dirk Coetsee

Coenie De Villiers

Coenie De Villiers

Either the Coenie of the Dirk. Probably the latter.

Either the Coenie of the Dirk. Probably the latter.

This way to Tugs of my past (2) 1980’s builds

The technical data for these posts comes from a 2001 document on craft dispositions. Measurements are in metres.  Brenton and Imonti images courtesy of Dayle Coombe,  Info on Tarpey and sisters by Ken Malcolm. Info on PJ Conradie by George Meyer and Anton Scheepers.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 25/09/2016

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 07:42

James Henry Reynolds VC

James Henry Reynolds (03/02/1844 – 04/03/1932) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Rorke’s Drift during the Zulu War in 1879.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 24734, Page: 3966, reads:

“Army Medical Department, Surgeon – Major James Henry Reynolds.

For the conspicuous bravery, during the attack at Rorke’s Drift on the 22nd and 23rd January, 1879, which he exhibited in his constant attention to the wounded under fire, and in his voluntarily conveying ammunition from the store to the defenders of the Hospital, whereby he exposed himself to a cross-fire from the enemy both in going and returning.”

He is buried in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in London. A commemorative plaque was also erected at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.  

James Reynolds VC 03/02/1844 -  04/03/1932 St Mary's RC Cem, London

Surg. James Henry Reynolds. VC.

Commemorative plaque for Surgeon James Henry Reynolds. VC. at the NMA..

St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery

 © DRW 2016-2018. Created 16/08/2016, edited 11/05/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 07:44

Royal Viking Sun. A personal glimpse

Royal Viking Sun was scheduled to call on 22 November 1996, and we headed down to Durban to see her.  Originally built in 1988 for Royal Viking Line, she was currently carrying the same name, but with Cunard branding. It was a confusing period in her history, but it is better explained on her website

Company Postcard

Company Postcard

As usual she was an early arrival, and I can see we went out on the pilot boat to drop off a pilot.

She was not a pretty ship, almost a bit top heavy and bulky, I think stretching may have improved her looks. She did however have a well deserved reputation as being a top ship in the world, and the prices for voyages on her reflected that reputation. Royal_viking_sun02

She had been in South Africa before, although on that occasion Royal Viking Line was still in operation.
Once we had completed our pilot boating for the morning we dashed across to Ocean Terminal to do some photography. It can be quite a race to be there before the ship, fortunately they often swung the vessel before bringing her alongside while we would be navigating our way over speedbumps, security guards, railway lines and potholes, all the while trying to see where the ship was.  Sometimes we got dropped off at the quayside by the pilot boat, although that usually meant we would have to hoof it back to where the car was parked. 
I seem to recall there was somewhat of a ruction on board the pilot boat because the ship was not flying the courtesy flag, and of course people were muttering about getting hold of the APC and chasing her out of the harbour. The situation was remedied though, so no harm was done.
By now I think we were in the “lets change clothes quickly” mode for when we went ship visiting, and naturally would have used the dirtiest toilets in Durban for the purpose (the smell had to be seen to be believed, it was the sort of smell that had a life of its own, and that held down a steady job and had kids and attended church on a Sunday).
Once on board we headed our own way, I know we had seen pics of her forward lounge and there had been a lot of pre-publicity about the ship in the local rag. The one thing I do recall about her was that she had a huge dining room, big enough to seat all the passengers in a single seating. That dining room was one whole deck! 
I have to admit she was beautiful on board, really tastefully decorated and overall well maintained. The promenade deck was an attraction for me because I am a sucker for a prom deck. 

Whereas the pool area did not really do much for me, but then I am not the type who finds lounging by the pool a lot of fun (that’s why we have promenade decks). 

The visit was not particularly memorable, but that’s because you spend so little time on board and it is a rush to see everything as quick as possible, added to that the almost 6 hour road trip ahead of us in the middle of the night. I know, we must have been crazy, but looking back so many years later I can say that I am glad I did saw some of these ships because the amount of classics still afloat is small, at the time of writing she is now almost considered a classic ship.
Royal Viking Line is but a memory, and they had a wonderful reputation for efficiency and service. Their ships were always immaculate, and oddly enough during those dry days when we had almost no callers in our waters there was a Royal Viking Ship calling. I don’t know where they went wrong, it is possible that catering for the market that they did meant that they did not have mass appeal. However, the legacy that they left behind is surprisingly big with all of their ships still afloat and in service somewhere. How many other cruise lines can boast of that accomplishment?
Then it was time for us to get off as the ship started to embark passengers and those who had gone on tours around Durban.  The weather was still quite good so it did hold out for a semi decent sailing. 
Unfortunately though, the light was going fast as she swung from the quayside, and by the time she came into the channel it was becoming very difficult to photograph her with the low light. 
And then she was gone. And there was no more reasons left for us to remain behind. So we headed off home.
Since 2002 Royal Viking Sun has been operated by Holland America Line as Prinsendam.  She does look better with the darker hull and the bulk is less noticeable. She is still a top rated ship, although no longer the top rated one.
© DRW 2015- 2018 originally created 19/02/2015, moved and images recreated 11/03/2016.  
Updated: 10/01/2018 — 20:02

William Dick-Cunyngham VC

William Dick-Cunyngham (16/06/1851 – 06/01/1900) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1879

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 25027, Page: 5140, reads:

“The Gordon Highlanders ,

Lieutenant William Henry Dick Cunyngham,

For the conspicuous gallantry and coolness displayed by him on the 13th December, 1879, at the attack on the Sherpur Pass, in Afghanistan, in having exposed himself to the full fire of the enemy, and by his example and encouragement rallied the men who, having been beaten back, were, at the moment, wavering at the top of the hill.”

He was killed in action at the Siege of Ladysmith, on 6 January 1900, and is buried in Ladysmith Cemetery, KZN, South Africa.


This monument in Ladysmith marks the spot where he was mortally wounded. 

He is also mentioned on the Cheltenham Anglo Boer War Memorial

© DRW 2015 – 2018. Created 06/10/2015. Edited 17/05/2017. Grave image courtesy of Terry Cawood. Ladysmith Memorial courtesy of Adri Joubert Alborough. Taddy & Co cigarette card by Card Promotions, ©1997, first issued 1902. Images added 13/01/2017 

Updated: 10/01/2018 — 07:49

Robert Digby-Jones VC.

Robert James Thomas Digby-Jones was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Boer War in 1900.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 27462, Page: 5085 reads:

Lieutenant R. J. T. Digby Jones, Royal Engineers, and No. 459 Trooper H. Albrecht, Imperial Light Horse, Would have been recommended for the Victoria Cross had they survived, on account of their having during the attack on Waggon Hill (Ladysmith) of 6th January, 1900, displayed conspicuous bravery, and gallant conduct in leading the force which re-occupied the top of the hill at a critical moment just as the three foremost attacking Boers reached it, the leader being shot by Lieutenant Jones, and the two others by Trooper Albrecht.


He is buried in Ladysmith Cemetery in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

© DRW  2015 – 2018. Created 06/10/2015. Image courtesy of Terry Cawood.

Updated: 10/01/2018 — 07:50

Joseph Malone VC.

Joseph Malone (11/01/1833 – 28/06/1883) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 25 October 1854 at Balaclava, Crimean Peninsula (Charge of the Light Brigade). Sergeant Malone, while returning on foot from the charge, in which his horse had been shot, stopped under very heavy fire and helped a troop sergeant-major (John Berryman) and other sergeant (John Farrell) to move a very severely wounded officer (who subsequently died) out of range of the guns. All three were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions. 

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 22043, Page: 3194, reads:

“13th Light Dragoons, 

Serjeant Joseph Malone Date of Act of Bravery, 25th October, 1854.

For having stopped under a very heavy fire to take charge of Captain Webb, 17th Lancers, until others arrived to assist him in removing that Officer, who was (as it afterwards proved) mortally wounded. Serjeant Malone performed this act of bravery while returning on foot from the charge at the Battle of Balaklava, in which his horse had been shot.”

On 28th June 1883, he died suddenly in the Officers Mess at Rugby Hotel, Pinetown, Natal from bronchitis at the age of 50. He is buried in St Andrew’s Churchyard, Pinetown, KZN, South Africa.

Joseph Malone VC 11/01/1833 - 28/06/1883 St Andrew's Churchyard, Pinetown, KZN.

Joseph Malone VC

© DRW 2015 – 2018. Created 27/09/2015. Edited 17/05/2017. Image courtesy of Shelly Baker.

Updated: 10/01/2018 — 07:50

Alfred Henry Hook VC.

Alfred Henry Hook  (06/08/1850 – 12/03/1905) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the battle of Rorke’s Drift.

The Citation reads:

“On 22/23 January 1879 at Rorke’s Drift, Natal, South Africa, a distant room of the hospital had been held for more than an hour by three privates, and when finally they had no ammunition left the Zulus burst in, and killed one of the men and two patients. One of the privates (John Williams) however, succeeded in knocking a hole in the partition and taking the last two patients through into the next ward, where he found Private Hook. “These two men then worked together – one holding the enemy at bayonet point while the other broke through three more partitions – and they were then able to bring eight patients into the inner line of defence”

He is buried in St Andrew’s Churchyard, Churcham, Gloucestershire.


© DRW 2015 – 2018. Created 25/09/2015. Image courtesy of Steve Rolfe.

Updated: 10/01/2018 — 07:51
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