HMSAS Southern Floe. (11/02/1941)
One of four Southern Class whalers taken over by the Navy from Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. Ltd., Durban. The four ships were renamed HMSAS Southern Maid, HMSAS Southern Sea, HMSAS Southern Isles and HMSAS Southern Floe. The four little ships, with their complement of 20-25 men, “went up north” in December 1940. In January 1941, Southern Floe and her sister ship Southern Sea arrived at Tobruk to take over patrol duties along the mine free swept channels and to escort any ships through them.
On 11 February 1941, HMSAS Southern Sea arrived at the rendezvous two miles east of Tobruk where she was to meet Southern Floe, but there was no sign of her. A common enough occurrence as often ships would be delayed by weather or mechanical difficulties or even enemy action. However, a passing destroyer notified the vessel that they had picked up a stoker from the vessel, clinging to some wreckage. The stoker, CJ Jones RNVR, was the sole survivor of the ship, and he explained that there had been a heavy explosion on board and he had barely escaped with his life. 24 Men lost their lives; although never confirmed it is assumed that the vessel had struck a mine.
CWGC lists 26 South African Naval Casualties from that date as being commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial.
There is a comprehensive look at South African naval casualties on the Observation Post blog
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