Ghosts in the Durban depths

2014-03-22 00:00

OFF the Durban coast lies a treasure trove of shipwrecks and local divers continue to discover even more. The most recent find has been described as a “ghost ship”.

For the past year and a half, Patrick Voorma and other divers have been diving to the depths off Durban to find wrecks of ships, many dating back to the two world wars of the last century. A recent find has left the team baffled as they cannot find any record of its sinking.

“We’re still exploring the massive wreck, it is about 80 metres long at about 75 metres below the surface,” said Voorma. “We discovered the wreck about two weeks ago and have since recorded footage of [it]. The next step is look for details ... from the footage to see where the ship was from and what it was used for.”

Voorma said he thinks the wreck dates to the 1900s.

Over the past year and a half, Voorma said that they had discovered around five wrecks.

One of their recent finds was the Namaqua, at a depth of 60 metres. The ship was based in Durban, and carried freight and passengers between Durban, Port Shepstone, Port St John’s and East London. During the Anglo-Boer War, when the young Winston Churchill was taken prisoner by the Boers outside Estcourt, he later escaped from Pretoria, made his way to Durban and subsequently sailed from Durban to East London aboard the Namaqua.

A submarine, the HMS Otus, which was used during World War 2 to patrol the South African coastline, was also found by the team. “This was a rare find since there were only about six ever made,” said Voorma.

“There are about 141 recorded shipwrecks off the Durban coast and still plenty more that haven’t been recorded that are centuries old. The first recorded ship was the Good Hope, which ran aground in 1685 on the Bluff.”

Voorma said that after posting videos and documenting their dives to the wrecks on the Internet, they received an overwhelming response from around the world.

• Visit the Durban’s Ghost Fleet Facebook page for more videos and wrecks:

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.