So thankfully our missing vessels weren’t stolen in the dead of night, but rather have been taken away for expert restoration!
According to maritime legislation, all seagoing vessels are required to be dry-docked every few years for safety purposes. Although the SAS Durban and JR More, which are exhibited at the Durban Maritime Museum, are not seagoing vessels, they do host thousands of visitors on board annually. Thus for safety reasons – as well as to preserve these precious exhibits – the vessels are also required to be dry-docked.
On the 21st August the SAS Durban was towed to SA Shipyards’ floating dock, with the JR More following on the 24th August 2019. Both vessels will undergo numerous repairs at the dry-dock. The SAS Durban is in fact a wooden vessel, so the majority of her timbers will be replaced with fibreglass placed around the hull and on the deck to help with preservation. JR More however, is made of stronger stuff as befits her former job as a tug, and is built out of good quality steel. She will be sandblasted, with steel work repairs carried out on her damaged areas.
After a month or so, we hope that both vessels will return to the museum looking shipshape and splendid!
P.S. If you have a particular passion for tug boats then you may be interested in joining the South African Tugs Facebook group – you might even spot a few photographs of our own JR More there while she undergoes restoration!
By Zama Mkhize, Durban Maritime Museum Supervisor