The South African Training Ship donated by T B Davis, philantropist extaordinary, as a full time institution for sea training, and named after General Louis Botha, First Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.

The HMS “THAMES”, an 1886 built River-Class cruiser (sister ship to the “FORTH”, “MERSEY” and “SEVERN”), was purchased from the Royal Navy by the philanthropist TB Davies in 1920 and donated to the South African Government as a training ship for seafarers. The vessel was renamed the “South African Training Ship (“SATS”) General Botha”, in memory of the first premier of the Union of South Africa, General Louis Botha, who had died in 1919. The first intake of “Bothie Boys” was in 1922 and they soon became a highly sought after commodity in world shipping. The various shore-based training establishments that followed the demise of the vessel in 1947 retained the original name and traditions, which inspired Wilhelm Grutter to write a history of the training ship titled “A name among seafaring men”.

Click here to view a selection of photos from this era.