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All three were built in Durban. These men manned the six-inch guns that were to defend Durban from Russia, should she decide, as was feared, on a programme of expansionism. The last reserve unit to close, in , will be SAS Unitie. Between and , however, the Great Depression forced Government to return the ships and pay off all but two SANS officers and three ratings who were retained for survey work. The Royal Navy retained three officers, nine ratings and ten civilians to continue the training and supply of the RNVR SA , which continued to operate.
The Seaward Defence Force took over responsibility from the Royal Navy for operating the minesweepers, anti submarine services, and the other examination and signaling duties in South African waters. It was said that "the discipline, morale and above all, the marksmanship of the 22nd Anti-Submarine guys, were unequalled in the inshore squadron. A total of members of the SANF were killed in action or died in service and awards for gallantry or distinguished service were bestowed on South African sailors.
Twenty-six battle honours were confirmed on our ships, three of which served in the Far East. A total of 2 officers and ratings were seconded to the Royal Navy, so that our sailors took part in nearly every major naval operation in the Second World War, as well as performing all manner of obscure duties from minesweeping off the Faroe Islands to hydrographical surveying in Chinese waters.
At the end of the war, South Africa received three Loch Class frigates: Nutria was later to be phased out, to be again replaced by the familiar and more popular blue.
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The SA Corps of Marines was formed in and was composed of coast and anti aircraft artillery regiments. When coastal artillery became obsolete in , the Corps was disbanded. In terms of this agreement, the SA Navy was to also acquire three new Type 12 modified Rothesay Class anti submarine frigates, ten Ton Class minesweepers and five Ford Class seaward defence boats. Other acquisitions included the tugs De Noorde and De Neys - the first tug in South Africa to be fitted with the then revolutionary Voith Schneider propulsion system - plus the torpedo recovery vessel, SAS Fleur, the first warship ever to be designed and built in South Africa She had the distinction of being the first ever ship designed in Denmark with the aid of a computer.
Further orders for submarines and corvettes were cancelled as a result of the United Nations led arms embargo against South Africa in May saw the arrival of the purpose-built hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea and, in , the River Class mine countermeasures vessels joined the fleet.
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They were also deployed in South West Africa Namibia , where they manned the twin-hulled harbour patrol boats and Vredenburg boats patrolling the Zambezi from Katima Mulilo. The Marines served in an infantry role on the Border until and were employed in counter-insurgency operations in South African townships in support of the South African Army. The Navy demonstrated its ability to conduct operations far from its normal bases and revealed its amphibious capability by landing marines in Delta boats from SAS Tafelberg.
The Border conflict ended in April and was followed by comprehensive rationalisation programmes in all arms of the South African Defence Force. To retain a new ship procurement programme and effect the financial cutbacks, the Navy elected to disband the Marines, some of its shore establishments and retrench 23 percent 2 of its personnel.
Three strike craft were to be purchased from Israel with the remaining six being built at the Sandock Austral shipyard in Durban. Sandock Austral was also to build what was the largest, most sophisticated vessel ever designed and built in South Africa, the replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg. All the flotillas were disbanded and placed under his command.
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Today the SA Navy recalls its origins with pride and confidently provides a professional and cost-effective maritime deterrent in times of war and a large variety of tasks in time of peace. The South African Navy is currently rebuilding its fleet with the procurement from Germany of four new patrol corvettes and three new submarines.
Three strike craft, three mine countermeasure vessels, an auxiliary vessel and several smaller craft are still in service.