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August 25, 2014

HMS Iron Duke, the ship that launched 21 Noon Gun balls in Cape Town

It’s all anyone was talking about for a week straight on social media – why was Cape Town’s legendary Noon Gun blasted repeatedly after its traditional midday slot on Monday 18 August, 2014?

The HMS Iron Duke, a British Royal Navy war ship set social media abuzz as Cape Town's Noon Gun issued repeated blasts to welcome it to our shores from 18 to 20 August, 2014. Image courtesy of Fazielah Williams

A stalwart of the laidback Capetonian lifestyle, the blasting of the Noon Gun is highly anticipated by residents and visitors alike eager for their lunch break and the extra blasts naturally confused us all.

Speculation was rife as the #NoonGun trended on Twitter in the Mother City, with everything from 90s music band tributes to drunken gun operators messing about being hypothesized as reasons for the unusual activity.

As we now know, the repeated canon blasts was a practise run for the arrival of the British Royal Navy’s war ship, the HMS Iron Duke, the regal vessel responsible for bringing the Webb Ellis Cup to the Fairest Cape as part of its Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour.

The South African Navy gave an impressive 21-gun salute to welcome HMS Iron Duke to Cape Town on Wednesday 20 August, 2014.

While I’m relieved that all of these exploding balls were not the markings of World War III, it did make for some hilarious tweets and these are a few of my favourites:

@cathjenkin:  "is the #noongun doing a venga boys tribute today or something?"

@RoyBarford23:  “Does anyone know if the noon-gun operator developed Alzheimer’s or if there is a war going on in Cape Town?”

@KaminiPather: "Anyone else wake up in Pearl Harbour?? #NoonGun"

‏@BSideCT: "Have taken five lunch breaks today. Boss is pissed, but the #NoonGun told me to."

@mikesharman:  "Oh my goodness, there’s something wrong with the NoonGun #CapeTownProblems"

@Rob_Vember: "Who pissed off the noon gun?"

@toothfairysa: "I would ask @noongun Why it keeps firing but they seem 2 have 1 line and one line only "BOOM! #noongun #capetown"

@SuzaanKeyter: "Go home @noongun, you're drunk! #CapeTown"

The HMS Iron Duke has been moored at the V&A Waterfront's Jetty 2 in the Table Bay Harbour.

Keen to see the Noon Gun up close and personal? Find out how you can join a daily short talk and demonstration by the South African Navy here.


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