Last week’s high-level discussions, including a letter of intent at the national defence-level, in Pretoria between the Netherlands and South Africa, saw a useful development in Simon’s Town, about 1,200 kilometers to the south.
The main port of the South African Navy is also home to the South African Maritime Museum, which is located, among other things, in the Dutch Depot. This building dates back to 1743 and is located in the West Yard of Historic Naval Base (NB) Simon’s Town.
Making the effort to see this particular part of the history of the Dutch Navy is Commodore Walter Silvis-Smit (Director of the Department of International Military Cooperation). His visit to Simon’s Town was to discuss cooperation between the Dutch Maritime Museum in Den Helder and the South African Maritime Museum, according to Commander Leon Steyn, the museum’s officer in charge. This was part of an official visit to the Netherlands that saw King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima meet South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Defense and Military Veterans Minister sign a letter of intent with her Dutch counterpart Kaisa Ollongren.
Upon his arrival, Commodore Silvis Smit was greeted by a silent guard from the SA Navy (SAN) with the most important first point of interest being the historic Dutch warehouse, writes Steyn.
“It was built by the Dutch East India Company in 1743. The three-storey building consisted of barracks, a sick warehouse, a blacksmith, a carpentry shop and storage facilities. This was the first structure built in Simon’s Town’s West Dockyard following an earlier decision It was taken by the Dutch to use and develop Simon’s Bay as a safe winter anchorage for their fleet.
“Today, 280 years later, the building forms part of the South African Maritime Museum and houses, among other things, the Transformation Gallery and the Official Gallery of Chiefs of the Navy.”
The Royal Dutch Navy was founded in January 1488, making it the third oldest naval force in the world.
The Dutch delegation spent more than an hour in the museum to view its exhibits and concluded its visit with an informal discussion and exchange of free gifts.
The Dutch defense delegation, led by Commodore Sylvis Smit, included Colonel Rene Marshall (Defence Attaché), Lieutenant Colonel Joop van de Heuvel (Senior Policy Adviser) and Lieutenant (Navy) Ruan Dijkstra (Staff Officer).
Zombie specialist. Friendly twitter guru. Internet buff. Organizer. Coffee trailblazer. Lifelong problem solver. Certified travel enthusiast. Alcohol geek.