Cold War Dutch Navy

The Dutch Netherlands Navy: Watch on the north sea

The Dutch Netherlands Fleet in 1945

The havoc wrought on the Netherlands Navy and supporting industries by the German invasion of May 1940 was unprecedented, with many ships still under construction (like the cruiser Van Hermskeerck, still fitting out and fleeing to UK to avoid being captured), other being scuttled or completed by the Germans (like some destroyers). Many of these refugee ships took a heavy part of the action of the Royal Navy, and two years later the bulk of the east indies fleet was destroyed by the Japanese. Nevertheless, Both British and American staffs believed the Dutch admiral in charge of the joint-Allied force was being far too aggressive. Later, despite they were few in numbers, Dutch submarines scored many kills, not only in Asia but also in the Mediterranean sea, sinking the U-boat U-95. Submarines did indeed their share against Japanese trade and supply lines. Two cruisers survived. However from D-Day and in particular September 1944 the retreated Germans destroyed all the infrastructures they can get their hands on, seaports and shipbuilding yards in particular, all useful tools and equipments were either scuttled or taken back to Germany. Ships were also blasted or sunk in the waterways and entrances. The cruiser De Zeven Provincien was launched before term for this purpose.

rotterdam destroyed
Rotterdam’s railway station after the blitz

Cold War Poster – Netherlands Navy

Reconstruction of the Navy

The naval staff immediately seen the emergency of the navy’s reconstruction in a troubled context. A new naval plan was drawn, combining what was learnt in naval warfare, and the experience of the RNN with the Royal Navy and in the far east, notably losses reports. However it only materialized in 1950. On of its immediate consequences was the authorisation of a purchase, still difficult to justify to the parliament in 1950, because it was quite ambitious, however justified by the east indies colonial possessions, and the price of the ship itself – The United Kingdom preferred to sell them at much lower prices than their construction implied because the Navy could no longer afford to maintain them active: It was the light fleet aircraft carrier Karel Doorman, first and only of this time in the Netherlands (although Dutch crews operated two escort carriers during the war under British flag). Therefore operational experience was already there, something which weighted in the balance. Before the “new” Karel Doorman was purchased, crews had been training throughout WW2 on the Galida, and the Nairana loaned from 1946 under the name of the famous WW2 admiral. The 13,820 tonnes escort carrier was used until 1948 and then returned to UK, resold and converted as a merchant vessel, in which state she served until 1971.

In addition, authorization was also given to complete two large cruisers, in construction since 1939, with a modernization to be used as escorts for the new carrier, and create in effect a task force (De Zeven Provincien class). Also, many other ships were aqcuired or prurchased: Six R, Q ans S class British destroyers, some already operated in WW2, the completion of an older Dutch DD, HX-4 Marnix, several T-class subs and the modernization of the three surviving O-21 class (launched 1939-41), a Frigate (Johan Maurits Van Nassau, ex HMS Ribble), three wartime Dutch Gunboats (Flores, Van Kingsbergen, Van Speijk), a minelayer, Willem Van de Zaan (1938), reclassed as a frigate in 1953, a 1938 emergency program gunboat “C”, eight Bathurst class ex-Australian minesweepers (Ternate class Corvettes). Still extant and modernized after the war were the 4000 tonnes cruisers Jacob Van Hermskerck and Tromp, Five Jan Van Asmtel class minesweepers (one scrapped 1946, the others BU 1961). All the extant ships were scrapped in 1945-47.

HRMS Karel Doorman

As it went during this reconstruction, aside clearing minefields, free harbours or any obstruction, get equipments, and repair shipyards as no naval construction could start before awhile, the Navy acquired many ex-British and ex-US ships (the latter often on loan) to gain expertise, in particular to share tasks of ASW warfare; Soon, decision was made to develop local electronics industry to provide newly built ships, but delays meant new ships were delivered with empty masts for some time. However on the long run it proved a wide decision, with good quality equipments soon recognised also as such on the international market. As for shipyards, and intense collaboration with British ones helped to solved many issues and speed up recovery of the local shipbuilding industry, as part of NATO rewards. This assistance started with the De Zeven Provincien cruisers and went on on the Holland class destroyers.

Meanwhile, relations with its colonies for the Batavian kingdom changed dramatically, with the Republic of Indonesia being established just two days after the Japanese surrender. By this, colonial authority vanished and after four years of bitter fighting, this was the turn of Indonesia.
Part of the Dutch Navy stationed in Netherlands New Guinea was even turned over to the Indonesian government in 1962. Newt, followed a campaign of infiltrations by Indonesian Forces supported by Soviet armaments, repulsed by the Dutch navy. Infiltrations ordered by President Sukarno to join these territories to Indonesia.

HTMS De Zeven Provincien and USS Essex in 1967
HTMS De Zeven Provincien and USS Essex in 1967


Althought there was no obligations for the Netherlands by joining NATO to drop their colonial possessions, but colonial wars became a burden. An active member from 1949 as well as in the early EU through treaties, the Dutch Navy received a reorientation towards ASW warfare in particular inside NATO. The navy was given two areas of responsibility, through the blue water navy east Atlantic command (possible with an aircraft carrier, two cruisers and several modern destroyers), still concentrating on ASW duties within this command, and on the other side, defend the shipping lanes and harbours along the North sea coast by providing a potent hunter-killer group. The Karl Doorman was therefore modernized in this direction, modelled after the recent Essex class ASW conversions in the USN. In addition MDAP provided many minesweepers, built locally or in the US and fully funded as well as small frigates.

Piet de Jong, commanding officer of HNLMS Gelderland in 1958

By the end of the 1950s the initial naval plan was complete and older ships has been either scrapped or returned. Decision was taken to develop Den Helder as the main Dutch navy naval base with a gigantic task ahead; Repair and restore, and then expand the base drastically. A new harbour was then constructed using the mudflats east of the port to create a very large additional basin, with fingers piers on each side. The west old harbour was then closed off and filled to provide space for new buildings and installations. There, not only all the new large units of the fleet would be built, but the centralized command of the Royal Netherlands Navy was based here, with the Task group command.

The 1960s saw the golden age of cold war Royal Dutch Netherlands Navy, with a rather large blue water navy, comprising the aircraft carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman, two large light modern AA cruisers, 12 modern destroyers, eight submarines, six frigates and many minesweepers.

Smaller units were placed in local bases at Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Flushing. In the 1960s the situation changed little and the navy adopted Leander class frigates to replace ww2-vintage ex-US escort destroyers. The fleet received a new support ship, the Poolster and the Karel Doorman, badly damaged by a fire in 1968 was repaired and sold to Argentina. Instead, the navy adopted eight long range French-built Breguet Atlantique patrol aircrafts. In the 1970s the two De Zeven Provincien cruisers were sold to Peru. The “old guard” went, and the first large missile frigates entered service. A new era began.

Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805) with NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 1 transit in formation for a photo exercise in 2007.

The 1974 fleet plan

This year a plan was formulated, asking for 23 major surface ships in three task groups, plus a squadron of submarines (6), and MCM (mine warfare) crafts, 30 in three groups.
-The two main task forces comprised a flagship, new missile frigate (Tromp class), six standard ASW frigates, and a suport ship, to operate in the east Atlantic.
-An ASW task force headed with a single standard converted AAW frigate, and six Van Speijk class ASW frigates for the Channel command.
Also came replacement for the old Dolfijn class, replacement planned as the Zvaardvis class submarines, of a brand new generation. The two mixed MCM groups would operate off the Netherlands coast and third group in the north sea under CINCHAN command.
In 1981, the plan was modified as two frigates were sold to Greece, while on the stocks. Due to the increasing aerial threat of the Soviet Union, the new two replacements asked for were planned as AAW frigates and soon joined by the new “M” class frigates tailored for the north sea.

The Dutch Task Force in the 1960s: HtMs De Ruyter (right), Karel Doorman (center) and De Zeven Provincien (right).
The Dutch Task Force in the 1960s: HtMs De Ruyter (right), Karel Doorman (center) and De Zeven Provincien (right).

The 1984 fleet plan

This ten-year plan was a post-crisis one, somewhat less ambitious. First it was to provide replacement for the old Roodfier class frigates, and it was decided to reduce cost to stick with standard frigate programme, with a twist as the Rhein-Schelde Verolme shipbuilding company collapsed in 1983. Further orders of the standard (Kortenaer class) also were compromised in 1987. The “M” class (Karel Doorman class) were brin forward to replace the Roodfier, immediately stricken to partly finance the replacement program, with four more options to replace the Van Speijk class. Also were ordered the new Walrus class attack submarines. Also was planned a major modernization in 1988 of the the two Tromp class frigates, but replacement was planned with the newt batch of Kortenaer class frigates, more versatile. Also the initial provision of tripartite mine hunters was scaled up and a new class was to be started in 1988.

This plan was however modified in 1986, consequence of the international crisis, budget cuts calling for twenty ships, with only sixteen operational, whereas relatively recent vessels were sold: The four van Speijk, after some reserve were sold to Indonesia, and five of the new minesweepers were also placed in reserve while the Tromp modernization program was curtailed and only one was taken in hand for a more modest upgrade, and two Kortenaer class ships missed their upgrade “capability upkeep program” or the installation of CIWS. The third batch of Walrus class subs was also cancelled.

Kortenaer “standard” class frigate in the 1980s

The Dutch fleet Today

Since the end of the cold war, a white paper asked for further reductions: This was a modified version of the 1989 ten years naval plan, and this time it was decided to not modernize any ships, while the “capability upkeep program” was to be capped to six Kortenaer class standard frigates. The 1991 plan planned for 1996 a fleet reduced to two task groups, each led by an ageing Tromp class frigate, a single AAW Hermseerck class frigate, four “M” class (Karel Doorman), three standard class (Kortenaer), three subs and a fast support vessel. The third “reserve” task force mobilized in case of war comprised four mothballed standard frigates, to be stricken in 2000. Six of the Alkmaar class minehunter was maintained in service.

However soon, political changes further drastically reduced these figures. The Kortenaer class were disposed of prematurely, three sold to Greece and the others disposed of form more sales from 1996.
In 1994 a new white paper called for a new peacetime structure compatible with NATO new requirements. It was calculated that the navy still needed no less than twelve operational frigates to maintain deployments for the NATO standing forces, channel and north sea commands, and east indies.

Command Structure

Naval squadron

This is the main bod of the fleet, comprising all surface combatants, including the replenishment and support ships, notably for the amphibious forces. As of today, the RNN holds the NATO post of COMBENECHAN, one of the three senior positions in the Channel command, and the structure of postwar era was based on four maritime regions, Ijmond (HQ Amsterdam), Rijmond (HQ Rotterdam), Texel (HQ Den Helder NB), and Schelded (HQ Vlissingen). The West Indies HQ is Curaçao.

Other units:

Mine Detection and Clearing Service: This force comprised minesweepers and minehunters, command, support and training.
Hydrographic Survey
Naval aviation: Two helicopter squadrons
Netherlands Marine Corps:
-Marine Training Command, former Groep Operationele Eenheden Mariniers
-Two Operational Marine Combat Groups (1 MCG AND 2 MCG)
-One Maritime Special Operations Force (NLMARSOF)
-One Surface Assault and Training Group (SATG)
-One Seabased Support Group (SSG)
-One rifle company (32 Raiding Squadron.), Aruba

Netherlands & Dutch Caribbean Coastguard
Placed under thre navy operational control.

Royal Netherlands Navy Submarine Service

HNLMS O 24 moored alongside two other OZD submarines in 1949

The Royal Netherlands Navy Submarine Service (Onderzeedienst abbreviated as OZD) is a department responsible for the deployment of Dutch submarines established outside the Torpedo Service on 21 December 1906, merged with the Mine Service on 15 July 2005. In 1905 it saw its first commissioned submersible, HNLMS O 1. The service is in charge of the equipment, supply and training. During WW2, the RNN operated about fifteen submarines, many taking part in hunting missions in the pacific, atlantic and mediterranean. During the cold war it was rebuilt with leased British and American submarines, before launching new construction programs.

Netherlands Maritime Special Operations Forces (2013)

The Netherlands Maritime Special Operations Forces is abbreviated NLMARSOF, or MARSOF. This is the special forces unit of the Marine Corps, one of the three principal units used for special operations with Korps Commandotroepen and Brigade Speciale Beveiligingsopdrachten, Royal Marechaussee, a kind of Gendarmerie elite. One of its tasks includes counter-terrorism overseas and at home, carried by sea. It was created in 2013 with the fusion o the Unit Interventie Mariniers (UIM) and Maritime Special Operations company.

Netherlands Navy Air arm

Royal Netherlands Navy NH-90 NFH at De Kooy Naval Air Station
As of today, the RNN operates:
-13 LRMP (Long Range Marine Patrol) Atlantique-2 twin turboprop aircraft
-20 NH90, including 12 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH), 8 transport (TNFH) for the Marine Corps Air Lift Helicopter Squadron. As planned in 1974 program, 36 helicopters were operated.

In 2012 an Apache attack helicopter was tested by the Royal Netherlands Air Force for deck landings on the assault ship HNLMS Rotterdam while upgrade to the AH-64E standard was envisioned. HNLMS Johan de Witt and HNLMS Karel Doorman ar also capable of carryong and operate the CH-47F Chinook, upgraded currently to the CH-47F standard.

Composition of the fleet today

De Zeven Provinciën class Frigates (2002)

Four ships, built 1998-2005 and used for anti-air warfare with BMD capability, ASW and with extensive command & communication facilities. The De Zeven Provinciën, Tromp, De Ruyter and Evertsen carried an NH90 helicopter and hangar, an Oto Melara 127 mm/54 dual-purpose gun, several Browning M2 12.7mm machine guns and FN MAG 7.62mm machine guns, a twin Goalkeeper CIWS and missile bays with 40-cell Mk.41, 32 × SM-2 IIIA SAM, 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow SAM, and two quadruple containers with Harpoon SSNs plus two MK32 Mod 9 TTs (Raytheon MK46 Mod 5), to replace part of the Kortenaer class ships.

Karel Doorman class (1993)

The last of the new eight standard serie initially planned were subsequently sold to the Belgian, Portuguese and Chilean navies. These M-Class frigates received extensive upgrades and are planned for replacement in 2028-29. See later, in the cold war section for more ample details.

Holland class PVs (2010)

Four Offshore patrol vessel, corvette size, built in 2008-2013, named Holland, Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen. These OPVs have helicopter decks, hangar for a single NH-90 or medium size helicopter, drone, and is a gunboat armed with 1 × 76 mm Oto Melara Super Rapid, 2 × 30 mm Oto Melara Marlin WS, and two 12.7 mm Oto Melara Hitrole NT and six 7.62 mm FN MAG machine gun. They had been used in anti-piracy missions.

Walrus class SSAs (1994)

The Navy only maintains four Walrus class conventional attack submarines. These are Multi-purpose diesel-electric powered hunter-killer submarines for deep ocean missions and coastal areas, also able to operate special forces. Modernized 2015–2019, replacement scheduled FY2027.

Misc. Ships

Alkmaar class (1989)

Six minehunter are maintained in service – initially 15 (see the cold war section for more). Replacement FY 2027.

Soemba/Cerberus class (1989-92)

Five multi-purpose Diving support vessel and harbour protection vessels.

Snellius class (2004)

Two modern multi-purpose Hydrographic survey vessels

Mercuur class (1987)

Single Submarine support vessel & MCM command upgraded in 2017.

The RN Marine Corps:

HNLMS Rotterdam amphibious transport dock (1994)

Colaboratively built with Spain, the 16,000 tonnes, 145 x 16 m amphibious transport dock (APD) was launched in 1997 and completed in 1998. She is capable of carrying 600 troops in addition to an air group personnel of 127 and base crew of 133. The fully equipped batallion of Marine can be landed by four LCU/LCM or six LCVPs. The 720 m2 dock is topped by a hangar containing up to 170 armoured personal carriers or thirty Leopard main battle tanks (which had been retired and placed in reserve since). The hangar above contains up to four EH-101 or six NH-90, and the rear section has a two-spot deck and single lift. The ship also has a 100-bed hospital to be deployed in humanitarian missions (which it did).

Other ships

Pelikaan class (2006) Single Multi-purpose logistic support vessel for the amphibious forces stationed in the Caribbean.
LCU/LCM and LCVPs landing crafts.

Vehicle force

It comprised nowadays mostly light to medium wheeled vehicles, but no Leopard MBT.
-156 BV206S APC (Mid-Life Update ) – tracked articulated vehicles.
-74 BVS10 APC, same, made by BAE
-20 Bushmaster MRAP
-4 Leopard BARV (beach armored recovery vehicles)
The Marine troops could also be carried and supported by a part of the 1275 Iveco LMV-2 AFVs, ordered by the army, likely to replace the 100+ Land Rover Defender, 40 Iveco Daily ANACONDA in the Caribbean, 40 Mercedes-Benz 280 CDI, and about 200-300 Unimog 1.2-ton and DAF & Scania trucks.
Some of these vehicles are towing either the L16A2 81 mm mortar orM6 C-640 – 60 mm commando mortar.

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Cold war Dutch Capital ships

Karel Doorman aircraft carrier (acquired 1948)

Karel Doorman Launching Sea Fury

The HMS Venerable was one of the last light fleet aircraft carriers to be operational in time for WWI, as she entered service in January 1945. In 1947, like many other Royal Navy carriers she was considered surplus and in the context of post-war budget cuts, she was mothballed. Like many other carriers of her class and those close to it, she was proposed on sale by the British Government at very affordable price (contrary to the USN which kept its own in reserve). This allowed many naval forces to get their first carrier, and the Netherlands were no exception. She met the 1950 naval plan and was purchased on the first of April 1948. She was renamed like the former escort carrier she replaced, Karel Doorman, the WW2 admiral which commanded the allied naval forces in 1942 and perished at the battle of Java.
The carrier also started with a crew experienced already onboard the carrier of the same name, plus personal which served on the Nairana, Colossus and Gadila. The Nairana served as Karel Doorman indeed, loaned from 1946 to 1948.

Dutch Sea Fury at the former AFB Soesterberg.

For practical reasons, the aircraft park consisted in Sea Fury FB 11 and Firefly ASW aircraft purchased at the same time. In addition 23 Sea Fury FB 15 were later built under licence in the Netherlands.
In the 1953-54 a deep survey of the ship was done to decide its fate, either scrap it or modernized it. The latter was chosen after a report was done on the excellent state of the ship, hull integrity and excellent conditions of the machinery and equipments. The modernization program was a massive undertaking destined to modify the hull and flight deck in order to operate jets. The yard chosen, Wilton-Fijenoord worked on blueprints from similar conversions done in the UK. The refit lasted from 1955 to 1958. She emerged with an enlarged (165.50 m long), much reinforced and angled deck, and steam catapult to port forward, new mirror landing sight, allowing simultaneous recovery and launch of heavier jets. An arrester gear fitted as well, and new tanks for jet gasoline. The internal arrangements were completely revised and overhauled as well.

karel doorman at port, prow

The electronics suite was also considerably modernized, entirely home-built, with a derrick style lattice four legs mast and taller funnel, with a LW-02 air surface search antenna, LW-01 long range surveillance radar and DA-01 combined air/sea search radar, VI-01 nodding height finder, new sensors and ZW-01 navigation radar above the bridge. The AA was also modernized, with 12 single 40 mm Bofors mountings, on each quadrant and either end of the island. The port forward pair was later removed to clear the end of the angled deck. Her air group changed for a squadron of Sea Hawk FGA 6 fighters and a squadron of TBM-3 Avenger, soon in the early 1960s, replaced by eight S2F-1 Tracker ASW planes and six HSS-IN Seabat helicopters. She was indeed refitted accordingly to the last naval plan, to be the center of an ASW hutner-killer group.

In 1965-66, the Karel Doorman was reboilered while in drydock, with units from the uncompleted carrier Leviathan, of the same class. However on 29 April 1968 a fierce boiler fire ravaged the interior. She was repaired but at that time, priorities had changed, and the next year she was sold to Argentina, after receiving more modern electronics and receiving the turbines of HMS Leviathan as well, becoming ARA Veinticinco de Mayo, which illustrated in the Falklands. She was discarded and decommissioned in 1997, quite a carrer.

HrMs Karel Doorman as whe was after reconstruction in 1965
HrMs Karel Doorman as whe was after reconstruction in 1965

Specifications (1958)

Dimensions: 211.3 x 24.4 (37 deck after rebuilding) x 7.6 m
Displacement: 15.892 tonnes standard, 18,986 tonnes FL
Powerplant: 2 shafts Parsons geared steam turbines, 4 boilers, 40,000 shp, 23.5 knots 12,000 nm range
Armament: 12 x 40mm AA
Electronics: Radars LW-01, LW-02, DA-01, Guiding VI-01, ZW-01
Air group: 21 aicraft (see notes)

De Ruyter class cruisers (1953)


The very interesting cruisers were one of many projects to bolster the Dutch East Indies Squadron, facing the Japanese Fleet. Tne other project was a battlecruiser, which never came to fruition. But two large light cruisers were also planned, to replace the 1920s HTMS Java and Sumatra. These the De Ryuter class cruisers, a radically enlarged version of the prewar HTMS De Ruyter. Both were started at Wilton-Fijenoord (De Zeven Provincien) and Rotterdam (Eendraght), laid down in September and May. However, little work has been done when the invasion began on May, 10, 1940. They could not be launch and therefore evacuated and both were captured as they were by the Germans. The German Navy supervised the pre-launch completion of the hull by orderding an “atlantic bow”, with more flare and raked. Later, as work progressed very slowly plans has been to launch her to block the Port entrance of Rotterdam but it never happened. Her sister ship remained on slip, with too little work for any hope of launch completion by the end of 1944. The Germans deided to removed all equipments to prevent their completion as the allies advanced and wrecked the yards.

As the war ended in Europe, the allied and new Dutch government assessed what could be done, there has been indeed plans to mobilize ships to be sent in the Pacific. Launch and Completion was postponed until 1947 but it was agreed the design was completely obsolete. New plans were established by the british, putting the emphasis on AA in the idea of using them as task force escorts. The original eight 6-in (152 mm) guns were kept but fitted with a new high elevation mount of 60°. They were partly manufactured at Wilton-Fijenoord, under licence by Bofors. They were fully automated, allowing 15 rpm and radar-guided. The secondary battlery was also brand new and comprised four twin Bofors 57 mm/70 AA guns, in tri-axial stablized mounts, also radar-guided, and eight single Bofors 40 mm/40. There was also a 103 mm flare launcher. The powerplant was completely revised, from separated rooms with three boilers rooms and three turbines, to a more united system with two De Schelde/parsons geared steam turbines four boilers 85,0000 shp for a top speed of 32 knots. The internal layout was also completely revised, in the arrangement of magazines and hoists and boiler trunking.

In the end they were fitted with two tall funnels instead of the original one, and tall tripod lattice masts supporting the radars -locally designed and built- in which the funnels were embedded, a bit like French “macks”. The bridge was also considerably enlarged to integrated general C&C, ASW task group command and admiralty facilities. To reduced topweight (1,000 tonnes more than originally planned), welding and aluminium were used everywhere possible. Of course of armour of fany sort was used. Also the electric generators (much more powerful by the way) were spread to avoid a single hit disability, a war lesson, and using AC current instead of DC. The dispersal of living quarters, and latest damage-control techniques were also integrated, drawn from war lessons also. Air conditioning and ventilation was also considerably improved. The ships after all were still planned to serve in the west an east indies.

This was pretty constistent but still “light” for nearly 190 m long ships, displacing 11,850 tonnes fully laden, which were launched respectively in December 1944 and Kijkduin (ex-Eendracht) in August 1950. Compelted in December 1953, De Ruyter was renamed, ex De Zeven Provincien. In December De Zeven Provincien followed (ex-Kijkduin). The ships underwent considerable changes during their career. To ensure their service globally both ships were tested in the arctic and equator. In the 1960 it was envisioned to convert both ships with Terrier missile for north atlantic service. Budget cuts and life expectancy however limited this conversion to De Zeven Provincien only. The plating of the main deck to the forecastle deck because of the extra depht needed to installed the missile magazine ring. All aft 6-in, 57 mm and 40 mm guns were removed and the superstructure completely modified. The terrier Mark 10 SAM system (long range) comprised 40 missiles in a barillet and a new mainmast was erected with the 3D SPS-39 radar and guiding system placed well behind the aft funnel, on which was placed the LW-01 radar. Thos was completed by a SW-01 unit and an M25 and M45 sets, plus two SPG-55 for each of the Terrier missiles.

De Ruyter carrying the royal family at St. Annabaai.
De Ruyter carrying the royal family at St. Annabaai.

In 1971-72, the last modification, the obsolete VI-01 was removed and DA-01 added relocated in place in its place toreduced topweight. The SPS-39 scanned was also replaced by an SP/SPA-72 planar antenna and the Corvus chaff system added abreast the bridge. These cruisers served as quadron flagships throughout their career, until replaced by the Tromp class guided missile destroyers. In 1973, De Ruyter, still in its original conventional configuration was sold to Peru, and became Almirante Grau. Her sister-ship was also sold in 1976 and became Aguirre in Peruvian service. They were decommissioned in 1999 and 2017 respectively, quite a remarkable service for ships designed in 1937.

blueprint and evolution of De Ruyter class – Conway’s, from navypedia


Dimensions: 182.4/187.3 (185.7) x 17.3 x 6.7 m
Displacement: 9,529 tonnes standard, 11,850 tonnes FL
Powerplant: 2 shafts De Schelde-Parsons geared stem turbines, 4 boilers, 85,000 shp, 32 knots.
Armament: 4×2 152 mm DP (6-in), 4×2 57 mm AA, 8x 40 mm AA, see notes
Electronics: Radars LW-01, DA-01, VI-01, M25 and M45 (guidance), see notes.

Cold war Dutch Destroyers

Banckert class (Transferred 1945)

HtMs Banckert, Evertsen, Van Galen, Piet Hein, Tjerk Hiddes, Kortenaer, Marnix

HrMs Evertsen off Yokosuka in 1951

By simplification these different destroyers are studied here in one go, based on their origin: They were all British WW2 destroyers, built in 1941-43, of the Q, N and S class, 1760-1796 tonnes. The first, Tjerk Hiddes and Van Galen were transferred in 1942 for the Free Netherlands navy, and served with distinction, but the other four were transferred in 1945, the last, Marnix, in 1947. They were the ex-Quillian, courge, Serapis, Sentinel, and Noble, Nonpareil and Garland (ex-Polish) for HtMs Marnix. She was rebuilt as a training ship the next year and stricken in 1964. No changes for all but three, Evertsen, Kortenaer and Piet Hein, overhauled at Rijskswerk Willemsoord from 1957, and classed as fast ASW frigates. They showed in particular a flying pad over the torpede banks for an helicopter.

After reconstruction, they had four 120/45 QF Mk IX, a twin 40/56 Bofors Mk VIII/IX, four twin 20/70 Oerlikon Mk IV, two quadruple 533 TT four DCT and four 2 DCR (70 – 130 DC) and for electronics carried a radar type 275, type 277P, type 283, type 291M, and a type 144 or type 146B sonar. They were stricken from 1957 (Banckert) to 1964 (Marnix) but Tjerk Hiddes was resold to Indonesia in 1951.

Van Amstel class (DE, transferred 1950-51)

Van Amstel, De Bitter, Van Ejwick, Dubois, De Zeeuw, Van Zjill.
These were Six WW2 ex-Cannon class (DET type) escort destroyers purchased on MDAP funds on 1950. The first four that year and the others in 1951. They kept their unique torpedo tubes bank for some time but it was removed as most of the AA guns, 20 mm Oerlikon. Their main advantage for ASW warfare was their ASWRL hedgehog, four depht charge throwers and racks. They served until 1967 and were returned to the USA for scrapping. All but the first has been built by Federal, Kearny NyD.

Holland class (1953)

Holland, Zeeland, Noord Brabant, Gelderland.

HTMS Holland off Chatham

These four destroyers still had some superficial classic WW2 DD looks but they were the first in Europe planned and completed without any torpedo tubes. They had been indeed designed in 1947 as pure ASW destroyers. They were to protect a task force agai,st submarines all around, while the De Ruyter clas cruisers provided AA cover (as the carrier’s air group). This was their hunter-killer group duty, but they were also intended to carry out missions singly. To defend the fleet against light surface forces showever they still had four Bofors QF 120 mm guns, in dual automated turrets.
They elevated to 85° and were capable of 45 rpm, radar-guided. AA was reduced to a single 40 mm and originally five 57 mm guns, but the core of their capabilities were represented by two quadruple 324 mm ASWRL at the front, several ASW mortars and the British squid system were also planned, but ultimately only the Bofors 375 mm Rocket Launchers were considered, installed on a raised platform behing the forward turret.

When the design was accepted, they were ordered in 1948 at Rotterdam DD (the first), Royal Schelde (the next two) and Wilton-Fijenoord (the last one), laid down in 1950-51, launched in April 1953, June, November and September respectively. They were completed in December 1954 (Holland), March, June and August 1955 for the other three. Delays in the early phase were caused by the state of Dutch infrastructures in 1950. To speed up completion they used equipments from the uncompleted wartime Isaac Swers class DDs, now mothballed. The class originally comprised twelve destroyers, the other group was modified and became a separate class (see below).

HtMs Gelderland aft section, Rotterdam

HtMs Noord Brabant at Vlissingen, showing her aft section

Powerplant-wise, they had been fitted with the Swers class engines which were smaller, so their performances remained modest, but good, at 32 knots. On trials, they proved able to even reach 40 knots, a testiment to their hull lines, but with the “cheating” of having no equipment present yet. There was some armour protection on the vitals but they were structurally part of the hull, made with high-tensile A52 steel weherver possible fornthe structure and armor plating, and aluminium everywhere else. A great attention was paid to watertight subdivision also. Electric welding was also used for construction, quite extensively, also to save weight. The adoption of the funnel embedded in the lattic mast was the result of wind tunnel tests. The configuration was adopted for many other designs. The aft mast however was placed behind the aft funnel, closer to the aft turret, which rested on the rear deckhouse. When completed, no home-built radar was ready yet.

They were fitted aft with a pole mast, later replaced by a lattice when electronics was installed in 1957-58. This consisted in the ZW-01, M45 radars, and the type 170B and type 162 sonars. So basically the ships operated “blind” for three-four years. The topweight of the electronics made for a drastic choice: The 57 mm mounts were removed and only a single 40 mm Bofors left. There was a proposal to removed their aft turret and convert them to missile, but this never happen. They were disposed of in the 1970s: Holland was sold to Peru in 1978, Zeeland scrapped in 1979, Noord Brabant in 1974 after a collision, and Gelderland in 1973. The latter had its twin turret removed and resued on the new Tromp class missile Frigates.

Profile rendition (navypedia)
Profile rendition (navypedia)


Dimensions: 109.9/113.2 x 11.4 x 5.1 m
Displacement: 2215 standard, 2765 FL
Powerplant: 2 shafts Werkspoor-Parsons geared turbines, 4 boilers 45,000 shp, 32 knots
Armament: 2×2 120 mm/50 Bofors DP, single 40/70 Bofors SP48, 2×4 375 Bofors ASWRL, 2 DCR
Electronics: ZW-01, M45 radars, type 170B, type 162 sonars

Friesland class (1953)

Friesland, Groningen, Limburg, Overjissel, Drenthe, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam

HtMs Friesland in the 1960s

The second group was virtually a repeat of the Holland class. They were laid down in 1951 to 1955, launched 1953-56 and completed in 1956-58. The main difference was their custom-built powerplant, allowing 60,000 shp and a top speed of 36 knots (42.8 on trials). The powerplant was identical to the Grearing class cruisers, and they were subsequently deeper and wider, also heavier. Their AA was therefore improved, with six single 40 mm Bofors but the rest of the armament was identical to the Holland class, as much of the construction details. The aft structure was modified and lattice masts installed from the beginning.

In 1960, HtMs Utrecht was experimentally fitted back with two quadruple 324 mm ASW TT banks, and Overjissel the next year, but they were ultimately removed as new developments in ASW made them obsolete. The two forward Bofors 40 mm AA guns were removed in the mid-1960s and the AA fire control radar in 1977-78. British sonars were replaced by home made CWE-610 models, same as on the Tromp class Frigates. These destroyers really made the backbone of the Dutch ASW hunter-killer groups well-valued inside NATO. They were all but Friesland (scrapped 1979), sold to Peru in 1980-81 and replaced by the new standard (Kortenaer) class Frigates.

HtMs Amsterdam, D-819 in 1958.

Profile of the class - Navypedia
Profile of the class – Navypedia


Dimensions: 112.8/116 m x 11.7 m x 5.2 m.
Displacement: 2497 tonnes standard, 3070 tonnes FL
Powerplant: 2 shafts Werkspoor Geared steam turbines, 4 boilers, 60,000 shop 36 knots – Range 4000 nm/18kts
Armament: As Holland but six 40 mm/70 Bofors AA
Electronics: LW-02, DA-01, ZW-01, M45 radars, type 170B, type 162 sonars

Work in progress…

Cold war Dutch Frigates

Roofdier class (1954)

HNLMS Lynx (1954)

Van Speijk class (1965)

Tromp class missiles frigates (1973)

Kortenaer class missiles frigates (1976)

Jacob van Heemskerck class missiles frigates (1983)

Karel Doorman class (1988)

Cold war Dutch submarines

Dolfijn class (transferred 1948)

Walrus class (transferred 1953)

Dolfjin (ii) class (1959)

Zwaardvis class (1970)

Walrus class (1985)

Cold war Dutch Corvettes and Misc.

Ternate class corvettes (transferred 1946)

MMS/BYMS class Minesweepers (transferred 1948)

Beemster class Minesweepers (transferred 1953)

‘O’ class Minesweepers (transferred 1966)

Dokkum class coastal minesweepers (1954)

Van Straelen class coastal minesweepers (1959)

Alkmaar class coastal minesweepers (1982)

Balder class submarine chasers (1954)