South Africa
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The last Boom Defence Vessel left in the world

The SAS Somerset is moored permanently for public viewing in the V&A Waterfront in Table Bay Harbour in Cape Town. She is the last Boom Defence Vessel left in the world and was taken over from the South African Navy in 1988. While she was in the navy’s service she was mostly used for salvage operations.

The SAS Somerset was towed from Simon’s Town to Table Bay and refurbished before it was turned into a museum. She was handed over officially to the SA Cultural History Museum by the Chief of the South African Navy, Vice-Admiral G Syndercombe.

Ships Specifications

  • Length 59 m
  • Displacement 960 tons
  • Propelled by one main engine with 850 horse power
  • Speed, 11 knots
  • Two boilers
  • Fired by coal originally but change to oil in 1959

Current usage

The museum is not open to the public however children are allowed sleepovers during the holidays.

New duties 

The SAS Somerset is to be uses as a training centre for safety at sea, in the near future.


The SAS Somerset was originally called Ship No 280 when she was launched on 15 April 1941.

1942 - Sailed to South Africa to start duties in Saldanha Bay in laying and servicing boom defence equipment.

1943 - the ship was renamed the HMSAS Barcross.

1947 - laid up in Durban.

1955 - was re commissioned and renamed SAS Somerset in honour of a famous horse that carried Dick King from Durban to Grahamstown in 1842. The ship still has a seahorse on its crest to honour the horse.

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