SAS Umkhonto

SAS Umkhonto (S98), formerly SAS Emily Hobhouse, was the second of three French-built Daphné-class submarines ordered by the South African Navy in 1968. Laid down in December 1968 and launched on 24 October 1969 and commissioned into the South African Navy under the command of Lt Cdr Lambert Jackson "Woody" Woodburne on 26 February 1971.[1] The submarine was decommissioned in 2003 and scrapped in 2008.

SAS Emily Hobhouse c. 1994
South Africa
Name: SAS Umkhonto
Namesake: Emily Hobhouse was a British humanitarian in South Africa during the Boer War. Umkhonto is the Zulu word for "spear"
Ordered: 1967
Builder: Dubigeon-Normandie
Launched: 19 June 1962
Christened: SAS Emily Hobhouse
Commissioned: 26 February 1971
Decommissioned: 2003
Out of service: 2003
Renamed: SAS Umkhonto (1999)
Homeport: Simon's Town
Identification: S 98
Fate: Scrapped, 2008
General characteristics
Class and type: Daphné-class submarine
  • 869 tonnes surfaced
  • 1,043 tonnes submerged
Length: 57.75 m (189 ft 6 in)
Beam: 6.74 m (22 ft 1 in)
Draught: 5.25 m (17 ft 3 in)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric, two shafts, 1,600 shp (1,200 kW)
  • Submerged: 16 knots (30 km/h)
  • Schnorcheling: 8 knots (15 km/h)
  • Surfaced: 12 knots (22.2 km/h)
Range: Surfaced: 10,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) at 7 knots (13 km/h)
Endurance: 30 days
Test depth: 300 m (980 ft)

Ship name

The first ships of the class in the French Navy were named after women, and the South African Navy followed this tradition. The submarine was christened SAS Emily Hobhouse after Emily Hobhouse, the British humanitarian and philanthropist who exposed the atrocious conditions into which some British concentration camps imprisoning the Afrikaner population had deteriorated into during the Boer War in South Africa.

Beginning in 1994, with the end of apartheid in South Africa, ships bearing names of noted European South African figures were renamed, and the vessel became SAS Umkhonto. Umkhonto is the Zulu word for spear.[2]

Operational history

In 1972, SAS Emily Hobhouse, under the command of Lt Cdr Lambert Jackson Woodburne, landed Special Forces troops, led by Commandant Jan Breytenbach near Dar es Salaam.[3] The Special Forces team placed explosives on a bridge, power lines and targets around town. While making the pickup rendezvous, the submarine snagged a fishing net and sunk the fishing vessel dragging the net.[3]

On 17 February 1982, SAS Emily Hobhouse was part of a submarine officer commanding course exercise the took place 80 nautical miles (150 km) off Cape Point. Her mission was to pass through the security screen provided by the frigates SAS President Kruger, and SAS President Pretorius and simulate an attack on the replenishment ship, SAS Tafelberg, which the frigates were protecting. The heavy seas were causing clutter on the radar screens and the execution of a World War II-era convoy maneuver in the rough seas ended in a collision at 4:23am between Tafelberg and President Kruger which resulted in minor damage to Tafelberg and the sinking of President Kruger on the morning of 18 February with a loss of 16 lives.[4] SAS Umkhonto was paid off in 2003 and scrapped in 2008.[5]


  1. Couhat, Jean. Combat Fleets of the World 77. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-87021-183-8.
  3. Stiff, Peter (1999). The Silent War. Galago Publishing. pp. 50, 51. ISBN 0620243007.
  4. "SA Frigate Goes Down". 4 June 2010. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  5. SAS Assegaai to be preserved as museum,; accessed 4 December 2013.

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