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The origins of the Naval Museum date back to 1966 when a naval historical collection was displayed at the Castle Military and Maritime Museum in Cape Town. In the mid 1970’s a part the naval collection was transferred to the Martello Tower in Simon’s Town and thereafter, Fort Wynyard in Cape Town, which also incorporated the Museum of Coast and Anti-aircraft Artillery.
With the decentralization of all Department of Defence Museums from the former Directorate Military Museums to the various Arms of Service in June 1987, Martello Tower was transferred to the functional control of the SA Navy (today a satellite of the Naval Museum) and Fort Wynyard to Western Province Command of the SA Army (today with Cape Garrison Artillery).

Investigations to establish a dedicated museum for the SA Navy in Simon’s Town were launched during 1988 it was eventually decided that the most appropriate location for the new museum would be the former Royal Navy Mast House that dates back to 1815 and the adjacent Dutch Store House that dates back to 1743. Both buildings are located in the historic West Dockyard of Naval Base Simon’s Town.
The new SA Naval Museum was opened by Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Simpson-Anderson on 1 April 1993. The first phase of the new display comprised exhibitions of the historic clock tower and part of the sail loft, while the second phase of the development included the utilization of two display areas on ground level of the historic Mast House, depicting the history and functioning of the Submarine, Divers and Weapons branch. The third phase included the conversion of part of the adjacent old Dutch Store House to house the General Botha display, the Hydrographic Printing display, the Transformation display and Russian Arctic Convoy display.

"INCREDIBLE museum. Even if you aren't insured in naval history, this exquisitely curated place is worth your time. The volunteers running things have really some a magnificent job of bringing the past to life. And it's all free!"

Alex Jenkins

"Just an amazing place full of wartime and naval pieces. You don’t need to like ships to enjoy that museum! Just an incredible experience"

Cole Stinson

"The Future Sparks kids really enjoyed their outing to the museum! Talk was very informative and all sorts of questions about the displays, were well handled by a very knowledgeable and friendly staff!"

Paul Miles

"A definite must visit
Entrance is free but donations are welcome
The staff are so friendly and welcoming and so happy to share their knowledge with you.
A large volume of history across the Navy, it’s well worth a visit
Ship models and artificers abound"

Sian Borrett

"History is beautiful. And it's always a good idea to add on what you know. Learnt about South Africa navy and went back down historically lane to learn the impact of how it has sharp the current runnings. Possibly the best education experience for kids.”

Chuck Tailor

"This is a lovely museum with alot of things to in it , it even sells some 3d printed models, badges and navy buttons .To think that people put somuch effort in it and it doesnt even require a enrtance fee is stunning."

Alex Smith

"I wish I'd gone here sooner. The museum has such a rich history regarding the navy and south Africa itself. There are pictures, actual objects, and tons of explanations to keep you absorbed into learning. It is free to enter and the receptionist is super friendly. It is also suitable for all ages."

Aarifah Mohamed

What is

on display

The South African Naval Museum displays the history of the South African Navy from its early origins in 1922 when the South African Naval Service was established, and shows its involvement and expansion during and after the Second World War (1939-1945) with the establishment of the Seaward Defence Force and South African Naval Forces. The displays also show the historical ties with the British Royal Navy, the age of sail and South African involvement during the First World War (1914-1918). The Transformation Display details the important events of the 1990s which culminated in the establishment of the new South African National Defence Force in 1994 and transformation of the South African Navy through the years.

  • The Dockyard Clock
  • Sail Loft & Mast House
  • Hydrographic Display
  • First World War
  • Labour Corps Display
  • Second World War
  • SWANS Display
  • Mine Counter Measures
  • SAS President Kruger
  • SA Marines Display
  • Communication Display
  • Gunnery and missile
  • Anti-submarine
  • Submarine display
  • Sailing Display
  • Firefighting Display
  • Diving Display
  • Training Ship
  • Hydrographic and Printing
  • Russian Arctic Convoy
  • Chiefs of the SA Navy
  • Transformation



Middle North Battery, Simon's Town 24 September 2022; 11:30

The South African Naval Museum and the Cannon Association of South Africa will conduct a single firing of the museum's historic Rifled Muzzle Loader Cannon at Middle North Battery on 24 September 2022 [...]


Middle North Battery, Simon's Town 11 November 2023; 10:30

The South African Naval Museum and the Cannon Association of South Africa will conduct a single firing of the museum's historic Rifled Muzzle Loader Cannon at Middle North Battery on 11 November 2023 [...]