Naval Base Simon’s Town is the South African Navy’s largest naval base, situated in Simon’s Town, near Cape Town. The base provides support functions to Fleet Command.
A small dockyard facility was first established in Simon’s Town by the Dutch East India Company in 1743. This was taken over by the British Royal Navy in the 1790s, under whom the facility was further developed over the following century and a half. A pair of handsome stone storehouses dating from the 1740s stand on the seafront where they were built by the Dutch East India Company, marking the initial location of the Yard. Immediately adjacent is the earliest Royal Naval building on the site (a combined mast-house, boathouse and sail loft); dating from 1815, it now serves as the South African Naval Museum.
Over the next few decades the site was developed gradually, with steam engineering and coaling facilities being added mid-century. In 1885 the government of the Cape Colony transferred the assets of the Simon’s Bay Dock and Patent Slip Company to the British Admiralty. By the close of the century, however, it became clear that more space would be needed to accommodate the requirements of a modern Navy. In 1898 a large site was acquired to the east of the original Yard for a dockyard extension. Sir John Jackson and Co Ltd. were chosen to do the work.
Construction began in 1900. The new harbour would encompass an area of 11 hectares, with a breakwater of 914 m long. It would also contain a drydock 240 m long and 29 m wide with a sizeable steam factory constructed alongside. The drydock was named the Selborne Graving Dock after the Earl of Selborne, the High Commissioner of the Cape.
Work on the Simon’s Town dockyard was completed in 1910.
The naval base was handed over to South Africa in 1957 under the Simonstown Agreement.
The Dockyard was expanded in 1975, a large area of land was reclaimed and the harbour walls were extended to form a new Tidal Basin