Category: ships and shipping

Alfred Edward Sephton VC

Alfred Edward Sephton (19/04/1911 – 19/05/1941), was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Second World War On 18 May 1941 in the Mediterranean, south of Crete, while serving with HMS Coventry when she went to the assistance of a hospital ship which was being attacked by German dive-bombers. 

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 35365 Page: 6889, reads:

“The late Petty Officer Alfred Edward Sephton, P/JX.I3082I, H.M.S. Coventry.
Petty Officer Sephton was Director Layer when H.M.S. Coventry was attacked by aircraft, whose fire grievously wounded him. In mortal pain and faint from loss of blood he stood fast doing his duty without fault until the Enemy was driven off. Thereafter until his death his valiant and cheerful spirit gave heart to the wounded. His high example inspired his shipmates and will live in their memory.”

His body was not brought ashore for burial and presumably was buried at sea. He is Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial, panel 46 column 2

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 28/02/2016

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:10

Frederick Thornton Peters VC, DSO, DSC*

Frederick Thornton Peters (17/09/1889 – 13/11/1942) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during Operation Reservist,  an attempt to capture Oran Harbour, Algeria during the Second World War. 

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 36019 Page: 2215  reads:

“The late Acting Captain Frederick Thornton Peters, D.S.O., D.S.C., Royal Navy,
For valour in taking H.M.S. Walney, in an enterprise of desperate hazard, into the harbour of Oran on the 8th November, 1942. Captain Peters led his force through the boom towards the jetty in the face of point-blank fire from shore batteries, a Destroyer and a Cruiser. Blinded in one eye, he alone of the seventeen Officers and Men on the bridge survived. The Walney reached the jetty disabled and ablaze, and went down with her colours flying”

On 8 November 1942 Captain Peters, commanding in Walney, led his force through the boom towards the jetty in the face of point-blank fire from shore batteries, the sloop La Surprise, and the destroyer Epervier. Blinded in one eye, he alone of 11 officers and men on the bridge survived. Besides him, 13 ratings survived Walney sinking. The destroyer reached the jetty disabled and ablaze and went down with her colours flying. Captain Peters and a handful of men managed to reach the shore, where they were taken prisoner. Hartland came under fire from the French destroyer Typhon and blew up with the loss of half her crew. The survivors, like those of Walney, were taken prisoner as they reached shore.”

The survivors were released on 10 November 1942 when the French garrison surrendered. While coming back to Britain, Captain Peters was killed when the Sunderland he was on crash landed in Plymouth Sound in thick fog on 13 November 1942. His body was not recovered.

He is Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial, panel 61 column 3

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 28/02/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:15

John Wallace Linton VC, DSO, DSC

John Wallace Linton (15/10/1905 – 23/03/1943) was posthumously awarded  the Victoria Cross while commanding HM Submarines.  (The convoy attack specified in the citation occurred off Libya on 28/29 May 1942) (

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 36028 Page :2329 reads:

“Commander John Wallace Linton, D.S.O., D.S.C., Royal Navy.
From the outbreak of War until H.M.S. Turbulent’s last patrol Commander Linton was constantly in command of submarines, and during that time inflicted great damage on the Enemy. He sank one Cruiser, one Destroyer, one U-boat, twenty-eight Supply Ships, some 100,000 tons in all, and destroyed three trains by gun-fire. In his last year he spent two hundred and fifty-four days at sea, submerged for nearly ‘half the time, and his ship was hunted thirteen times and had two hundred and fifty depth charges, aimed at her.
His many and brilliant successes were due to his constant activity and skill, and the daring which never failed him when there was an Enemy to be attacked. 
On one occasion, for instance, in H.M.S. Turbulent, he sighted a convoy of two Merchantmen
and two Destroyers in mist and moonlight. He worked round ahead of the ‘ convoy and dived to attack it as it passed through the moon’s rays. On bringing his sights to bear he found himself right ahead of a Destroyer. Yet he held his course till the Destroyer was almost on top of him, and, when his sights came on the convoy, he.fired. His great courage and determination were
rewarded. He sank one Merchantman and one Destroyer outright, and set the other ‘Merchantman on fire so that she blew up.”

On 6 May 1941 Lieutenant-Commander John Wallace Linton of HMS Pandora was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross:

“For courage and determination in sinking two Italian supply ships.”

On 15 September 1942 Commander John Wallace Linton, DSC, was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order:

“For courage and skill in successful submarine patrols in HMS Turbulent.”


He was killed in action in Maddalena Harbour, Italy, on 23 March 1943 and is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial panel 72 column 3

H.M. Submariner Turbulent was lost in March 1943, the circumstance of her loss are not known.   She is commemorated on the memorial at the  Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 27/02/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:21

Geoffrey Saxton White VC

Geoffrey Saxton White (02/07/1886 – 28/01/1918) was awarded the Victoria Cross while in command of H.M. Submarine “E 14” on the 28th of January, 1918.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 31354 Page: 6445 reads:

“For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Commanding Officer of H.M. Submarine “E 14” on the 28th of January, 1918.

“E 14” left Mudros on the 27th of January under instructions to force the Narrows and attack the “Goeben”] which was reported aground off Nagara Point after being damaged during her sortie from the Dardanelles. The latter vessel was not found and “E 14” turned back. At about 8.45 a.m. on 28 January a torpedo was fired from “E 14” at an enemy ship; 11 seconds after the torpedo left the tube a heavy explosion took place, caused all lights to go out, and sprang the fore hatch. Leaking badly the boat was blown to 15 feet, and at once a heavy fire came from the forts, but the hull was not hit. “E 14” then dived and proceeded on her way out.

Soon afterwards the boat became out of control, and as the air supply was nearly exhausted, Lieutenant-Commander White decided to run the risk of proceeding on the surface. Heavy fire was immediately opened from both sides, and, after running the gauntlet for half-an-hour, being steered from below, “E 14″ was so badly damaged that Lieutenant-Commander White turned towards the shore in order to give the crew a chance of being saved. He remained on deck the whole time himself until he was killed by a shell.”

His body was not recovered.

He is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Mermorial Panel 28, Column 3.

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

H.M. Submarine “E14” is remembered at Gosport Submarine Museum.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 27/02/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:23

Frederick Daniel Parslow VC

Frederick Daniel Parslow (14/01/1856 – 04/07/1915) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions while in the Atlantic during The first World War.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 31354 Page: 6445, reads:

“Lieutenant Frederick Parslow, R.N.R.

For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of the Horse Transport “Anglo Californian”

On the 4th July 1915. At 8am on 4th July 1915 a large submarine was sighted on the port beam at the distance of one mile. The ship, which was entirely unarmed, was immediately manoevred to bring the submarine astern; every effort was made to increase speed, and a S.O.S. call was sent out by wireless, an answer being received by a man-of war. At 9a.m. the submarine opened fire making occasional hits until 10.30a.m. meanwhile Lieutenant Parslow constantly altered course and kept the submarine astern.

At 10.30a.m. the enemy hoisted the signal to abandon the vessel as fast as possible and in order to save life Lt. Parslow decided to obey and stopped engines to give as many of the crew as wished the opportunity to get away in the boats. On receiving a wireless message from a destroyer however urging him to hold on for as long as possible he decided to get way on the ship again. The submarine then opened a heavy fire on the bridge and boats with guns and rifles wrecking the upper bridge, killing Lt. Parslow and carrying away one of the port davits causing the boat to drop into the sea and throwing its occupants into the water.

At about 11a.m. two destroyers arrived on the scene and the submarine dived.

Throughout the attack Lt. Parslow remained on the bridge on which the enemy fire was concentrated entirely without protection and by his magnificent heroism succeeded, at the cost of his own life, in saving a valuable ship and cargo

The Royal Navy awarded Captain Parslow a posthumous commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, and he was then awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

He is buried in Cobh Old Cemetery, Cobh. Ireland. Plot B-15-8, Grave 478, and he is commemorated on Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 27/02/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:27


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

The Ross and the Woltemade

When it comes to talking about salvage tugs two names really stand out: the John Ross and the Wolraad Woltemade. 

The John Ross was built in Durban in at the James Brown & Hamer yard in 1976 and was named after Charles Rawden Maclean. Her principle dimensions are: overall length of 94,60m, breadth: 15,80m, depth: 8,60m, draft: 7,50m. She is of 2.918 Tons GRT and 875 Tons NRT.

I was fortunate enough to see her in East London in 1990, and I was very impressed. Unfortunately I was limited in how many pics I could take of her.

She was renamed Smit Amandla (callsign ZTUG) from December 2003. 

The Wolraad Woltemade was built at the Henry Robb shipyards in Leith for Safmarine. She was handed over to her new owners in 1976 and was named after Wolraad Woltemade

Wolraad Woltemade

Wolraad Woltemade

I saw her in Cape Town in 1990, although the images I took were not great due to the early morning gloom. 

Sadly she was broken up in 2010. 

There are 1/1250 scale (1,2 x 7,6 x 2,0 cm) models of the Ross and Woltemade available and they are in nylon and unfinished although there are a variety of different finishes and colours to choose from but I took a low res because I really wanted to see what the the output from a 3D printer looked like. 


What were they like? I battled to get a smooth surface on them, sanding did not seem to work and in the end multiple coats of paint were the easiest. I also battled to get anything to stick to them. The mast of the Woltemade was a battle and the end result is really just a compromise. They are nice models though, esp the Ross.

Almost done

The Ross and Woltemade were the most powerful salvage tugs in the world when they were built and were involved in a number of marine casualties. They are true South African marine icons.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 01/10/2016

Updated: 27/05/2019 — 21:17

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
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