Military Wiki
HMS Thames (1885)
HMS Thames launched.jpg
HMS Thames just after launching
Career (UK)
Class and type: Mersey-class second class cruiser
Name: HMS Thames
Namesake: River Thames
Builder: Pembroke Dockyard
Laid down: 1884
Launched: 3 December 1885
Commissioned: 1888
Reclassified: Submarine depot ship, 1903
Homeport: Harwich
Fate: Sold 1920
Career (South Africa)
Name: SATS General Botha
Namesake: Louis Botha
Christened: 1 April 1922
Acquired: November 1920
Commissioned: March 1922
Decommissioned: 1942
Renamed: Thames, 1942
Reclassified: Training ship, 1922
Accommodation ship, 1942
Homeport: Simonstown
Fate: Scuttled on 13 May 1947
General characteristics
Displacement: 4,050 tons
Length: 315 ft (96 m)
Beam: 46 ft (14 m)
Draught: 19 ft (6 m)
Propulsion: Coal-fired boilers, reciprocating steam engines, twin shaft
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)
Range: 6,500nm at 12.00 knots
Complement: 10 officers and 290 ratings

As cruiser:
Two x BL 8-inch (203.2 mm) Mk IV guns
10 x BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) guns
Three x QF 6 pounder
Three x 3 pounder QF

Four Torpedo Tubes
Armour: 2.00"

HMS Thames was a Mersey class second class protected cruiser of the Royal Navy. She later served in the South African Navy under the name SATS General Botha as a training vessel.


Royal Navy[]

The ship did not see any action as a cruiser, and in 1903, was converted to a submarine depot ship.

South Africa[]

She was sold to the Jersey-born South African entrepreneur TB Davis, who purchased the ship in November 1920 as a memory to his son who died during World War I. He donated it to a trust, with the stipulation that it be used exclusively for the nautical training of British and South African boys, so that they could subsequently serve in ships of the British Empire.

HMS Thames was renamed South African Training Ship (SATS) General Botha. She directly contributed to the establishment of the South African Navy.[1] and was based at the Simonstown naval base.

The General Botha in 1925

From 1942, she served as an accommodation ship, once again under the name Thames, before finally being scuttled on 13 May 1947 in False Bay. There exists an alumni association for those who served aboard the General Botha, which has the Duke of Edinburgh as her patron.[2] The South African Naval Museum in Simonstown has an exhibition dedicated to the ship.

Memorial in Cape Town for SATS General Botha graduates who died during World War II

Further reading[]

  • Grutter, Wilhelm. A Name Among Seafaring Men: A history of the training ship General Botha. T. B. F. Davis Memorial Sailing Trust. ISBN 0-620-01151-3. 

See also[]


External links[]

Coordinates: 34°13′48″S 18°37′48″E / 34.23°S 18.63°E / -34.23; 18.63

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