Battery is a functional naval firing range authorized by
Government Gazette. The lower North Battery (then called
Zoutman Battery) was designed by Thibault in 1793 and is
the oldest fortification in South Africa that is still
Fleet conducts training in the use of various caliber
weapons throughout the year excluding the peak whale
mating period, which is mid-August to mid-November.
Only white smoke and a loud bang
road between Muizenberg and Simon's Town provides
excellent viewing sites however several members of the
public have voiced concern about the impact of firing on
the marine life.
The impact of live-firing
on marine life
from Lower north entails a projectile or shell which is
released due to the conversion of chemical energy into
kinetic energy. The byproducts of this conversion of
energy (and the rapid movement of the projectile) are
sound and smoke. So, how does this impact on the marine
generated by the weapon as it fires the projectile
travels very well through the air, and depending on
the caliber of weapon as well as the atmospheric
conditions, can be heard several kilometers away.
Sound generated by the weapons does not however
transfer into the water as sound waves do not cross
between the two mediums (air/water) well. Just
imagine how difficult it is to hear someone talking
to you when you are at the bottom of a swimming pool
and they are standing outside. The minimal amount of
sound that does penetrate is drowned out by the
underwater noise generated by waves breaking on the
shore and other marine sources of noise.
smoke generated from the firing is negligible and
disperses quickly with no measurable effect on the
environment, marine or otherwise.
Projectiles that hit the water lose their kinetic
energy very quickly and these rounds tend to break
up within 15 centimetres of the surface. These
projectiles mostly consist of copper or steel and do
not impact the environment other than providing new
areas for marine life to anchor themselves.
firing events at Lower North Battery, other measures are
also put in place to ensure that marine life is not
endangered. No firing is conducted if whales are spotted
in the range area or near its outer limits. If any
whales are spotted, their movement is monitored and
firing will only continue once they have moved clear of
the range boundaries. Sentries are used to monitor the
range with cameras from high vantage points.
Gun Salutes for visiting ships are also conducted from
Lower North Battery, however these “salutes” contain no
projectile, only white smoke and a loud bang. As such
they have no impact on the marine environment.