Evertsen class Coastal Defence Ships (1893)

Evertsen class Coastal Battleships

The Netherlands – 1893-1920: HRMS Kortenar, Evertsen, Piet Hein

The three Evertsen class were the first Dutch Netherland’s Navy modern coastal battleships, built after a long line of monitors. Built in 1893-96, they played their role as deterrent before WWI and started to be decommissioned in 1913, 1914, and 1920 for HRMS Kortenaer, as a schoolship.

The last line of defence

Amsterdam in the early 1900s (WoW)

Like most northern countries, the late 1890s saw some trust given to a less costly but still effective class for deterrence: The coastal battleship. Many were produced and used by the Navies of Denmark, Norway, Sweden. Even the recent Imperial German Navy had those before any true scale battleships, while the USN still relied on their monitors and the French favored them as part as their Jeune Ecole credo.

The Netherlands were no different. Since the 1850s they saw the rise of armor and departed from traditional wooden vessels, screw frigates in service. In 1863, the Dutch Navy had its first broadside ironclad (De Ruyter), converted from an older 74 guns vessels. In 1866 was launched its first turret ship (Prinz Hendrik der Nederlander), on 1868-70 two Buffel ironclad rams, and two Scjorpioen turret rams, plus eleven monitors built in 1868-71. Two more were built in the 1870s, Draak and Matador, but in 1891 was launched HRMS Reinier Claeszen, largest sea going monitor of the Dutch Navy so far.

Many thought these Monitors were unable to defend the colonies in case of war and wanted a larger, more rounded armored vessel, not a mere coastal monitor. This was the genesis, in 1891, of the Evertsen class. They would be the first modern true coastal battleships of the Ductch Navy, still heavily armed, but more balanced with secondary weapons and torpedoes, a larger draft and seakeeping qualities as well as better speed and armor. This was an ambitious programme, concluded with the launching of three vessels at Fijenoord, Amsterdam and Schelde, launched in 1894 and completed in 1896.

HRMS Jacob Van Heemskerck, with the three Evertsen class behind, berthed in a canal.

The formula was so successful they will be followed by the three larger Konigin Regentes in 1900-1902, and the very large HRMS Tromp in 1904 and Jacob Van Heemskerck in 1906. These eight vessels made the bulk of the Navy deterrence when WWI broke out, while projects were made for proper dreadnoughts to defend the East Indies. But that’s for another day.

Design of the Evertsen class

To create these pantserschepen, the admiralty though of large guns that can deter an opponent, but having little experience in that matter, the Krupp 21 cm L/35 was adopted right away. Discussion then went on the best possible location and it was agreed for stability reasons not to go with the classic ironclad configuration of the time, with two paired barbettes fore and aft, but rather that forward fire, during a defensive sortie, was the most potent and so, the configuration in a twin turret forward and single aft was adopted.

Another point of debate was the size of the hull. It was calculated from the size of the forward barbette, which was larger. The twin barbette was farther from the ram bow than the stern chase gun, and the superstructure was built in between.

Hull and general design

Depicted on Brasseys naval annual

Their hull was 86.2 metres (282 ft 10 in) long, for 14.33 metres (47 ft) in beam and 5.23 metres (17 ft 2 in) of draught, resulting in a contracted displacement of 3,464 ton.

There two military masts had the same height, in two parts. The lower, thicker base supported military tops with a rounded triangular shape. The two forward corners supported Hotchkiss QF guns. The main bridge had an hemispheric face, metal-covered for splinter protection. There was an open platform aft of the roof mounting a forward main projector. The second one was on raised platform aft, ending the upper deck.

The forward and only conning tower was located just begind the main bridge, with the formast behind. A small radio room, with wooden paneling was installed forward and close to the main funnel, with wreless telegraphy masts. The aft part of the battery roof or upper deck was dotted with seven tall air intakes. The deck superstructures were not continuous but comprised a main block starting around the funnel, ending aft of it and the quartedeck structure aft, before the mainmast. The bridge and CT was supported by a large cyclindrical, armored base.

These armored battleships carried boats on davits, eight in all along the hull, at battery deck level. Steam pinnaces/picket boats were located aft of the secondary sponson guns, setting below its lower fire angle. In case of heavy seas however, these boats would have been toasted on the flanks. The buyancy reserve was considerable but the hull sat very low, at just a deck level above the waterline. Both the prow and stern were lavishly decorated by fake gold motives typical of the late XIXth century.


The ships were equipped with 2 shaft reciprocating engines, which were rated at 4,700 ihp (3,500 kW) and produced a top speed of 16 knots (30 km/h). The six cylindrical boilers were truncated into a single very large, tall funnel ensuring good draft. Combined with relatively short masts, this was the greatest recoignition point for these vessels.

Armour protection layout

The ships of the class were protected by Krupp (not cemented) armor. It was wella adjusted for their own caliber and able to resist armoured cruisers armed the same.
-Belt: 150mm (6 in) amidships, 100mm (4 in) ends 100% length
-Belt sloped to armored deck: 55mm (2.2 in), turtleback on ends.
-Fwd barbette 240mm (10 in) thick walls
-Beam barbettes secondary guns 75mm (3 in) armour
-Aft main barbette 150 mm (6 in)


The main armament of the ships where three 8.2 in (21 cm) guns in a double and single turret. Secondary armament included two single 15 cm (5.9 in) guns and six single 7.5 cm (3.0 in) guns. The first were 209mm/32 Krupp No.2 guns forward, a single 209 mm/35 Krupp No.2 aft in barbette, two single 149mm/35 Krupp No.1 guns on either beam’s sponsons and six single 75mm/37 Krupp (3 in) No.1 Krupp guns, completed at the time by eight single 37mm/20 Hotchkiss QF repeating guns and three 450 torpedo tubes, two in the beam and one aft in chase.

The design of the lain barbettes cover was also quite different. The forward one was an integral cover, hemispheric cupola ending with a rear director station. The aft one was simple cover which left the aft section wide open for servants.

8.2 in/32 Krupp (21 cm)

In 1886, Krupp designed the 21 cm L/35 (8.2 in) gun for the domestic needs and soon export customers, in 1890. The No. 1 and No. 2 existed and the latter were adopted by the Netherlands for numerous ships: In addition to the Evertsen-class, Hydra-class, Koningin Wilhelmina der Nederlanden, Reiner Claeszen and Sumatra. The models differed by their weight, rifling, propellant charges and muzzle velocities.

It fired a 140 kg (310 lb), 209.3 mm (8.24 in) 35 caliber shell, capable of 580 m/s (1,900 ft/s) with a 54 kg (119 lb) propellant charge. Range and rate of fire figures are unknown (so far).

2x 15 cm (5.9 in)

Secondary armament comprised two single Krupp 15 cm guns on sponsons bulging amidship, under simple masks. The 15 cm Schnelladekanone Länge 35 was widely exported, and designed from 1880. It used a separate loading cased charge and projectile, with a shell weight of 45.6 kg (101 lb), 149.1 mm (5.87 in) 35 in exact caliber. The gun had a horizontal sliding breech block elevating -7° to +20°. It was capable of 4-5 rpm rate if fire at 650 m/s (2,100 ft/s), up to 10 km range (6.2 mi) at +19°. It was also shared by the Cruiser Sumatra.

6x 7.5 cm (3.0 in)

The Krupp 75mm gun M.1880 was declined as field and shipborn models. Figures as those of the feldkanone C/80. It fired a 4.3 kg shell with a 100 g charge, at 6,100 m. muzzle velocoity was 460 m/s but it was slow-firing. They were all installed under masks on the upper deck (superstructure), fore and aft and amidship.

8× 1-pounder QF

The classic Hotchkiss semi-auto 37 mm “machine gun”. Similar to the Gatling system, this was a five-barrel gun, which needed frequent reloading. The rate of fire was essential to deal with closing in torpedo boats escaping the 8cm fire. Four were installed on the fighting tops, and the others along the upper deck.

3× 45 cm (18 in) TTs

The three 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes were fixed, two firing in the broadside, one aft. Model unknown, likely the Whitehead Model. I have no info of 1880s German torpedoes.


⚙ Evertsen as built, specifications

Dimensions 86.2m x 14.3m x 5.23m (282 ft 10 in x 47 ft x 17 ft 2 in)
Displacement 3,464 tons standard, 4,800 tons Fully Loaded
Crew 263 officers and ratings
Propulsion 2 VTE, 6 cyl. boilers, 4,700 ihp.
Speed 16 knots (30 km/h)
Range 2800 nm @ 9 knots based on 289 t of coal.
Armament 1×2, 1×1 21cm/35 Krupp No.2, 2x 15cm/35 Krupp No.1, 6x 7,5cm/37 Krupp No.1, 8x 3,7cm/20 Hotchkiss, 3x 45cm TT
Protection KC steel belt 100-150, deck 55, barbette, CT 240mm

Read More


Staatsbegrooting voor het dienstjaar 1897
Rotterdams Nieuwsblad, 19 Juli 1911
Het Nieuws van de Dag: kleine courant, 1 Juni 1912
J. Gardiner Conways 1865-1905


Staatsbegrooting voor het dienstjaar 1897

Model Kits

None discovered so far.

The Evertsen in service 1896-1920

HRMS Evertsen

Painting of the Evertsen in 1911-14 during her north sea sorties, in grey livery.

The lead ship of her class was laid down in 1893 at the Koninklijke Maatschappij, De Schelde Yard, in Flushing. She was launched on 29 September 1894 and commissioned on 1 February 1896. On 4 February 1896 she and Kortenaer left home waters for exercizes in the Mediterranean. On 11 May 1896 the harbor strikes in Rotterdam saw her like her sister, patrolling the Meuse river, and later she was relieved by Evertsen, Piet Hein and the police schooner Argus. The strikes eventually ended on 21 May.

On 5 May 1898, she left Den Helder for Lisbon, for the celebration of the discovery of the seaway to India by Vasco da Gama 400 years ago. Incidentally, she was there to see a possible deployment of the home armada (Spanish Navy) possibly called for reinforcement of Cuba. HDMS Evertsen hosted the Portuguese king Carlos I and his wife during a state visit. Northing muhch happened in her career the following years. She alternated betwene summer exercizes and long period of rest and maintenance, or inactivity. In 1911-1913 Captain lieutenant Jean Jacques Rambonnet took command. She made several the North Sea sorties and cruises for training, meeting an saluting ships of the RN and Kaiserliches Marine along the way. She was was finally decommissioned in 1913 and thus, never saw the great war.

HRMS Kortenaer

Kortenaer and Piet Hein in the 1890s

HDMS Kortenaer was laid down in 1893 at Rijkswerf Yard, Amsterdam. She was launched on 27 October 1894 and commissioned on 17 December 1895. On 4 February 1896 with HDMS Evertsen she left home waters for the Mediterranean Sea and start a round of sailing and gunnery practice. On 11 May 1896, when home, she was struck by the harbor strikes in Rotterdam. The government decided a ban on assembly and after two days she patrolled the Meuse River, but some in the crew still caused unreste. She was relieved by Evertsen and Piet Hein, boarded by the police schooner Argus. 300 grenadiers put an end to the strikes on 21 may 1896.

Nothing much happened until 1900 and up to 30 May 1913 when Kortenaer sailed to Constantinople, relieving the cruiser HDMS Gelderland sent on 11 November 1912 due to high political tension and to protech Dutch and international residents and assets. On 12 April 1914 she was based in the East Indies, Curaçao, when ordered to sail to the Mexican coast. There, unrest caused action, so she was there to protect the national petrol company La Corona, in Tampico. During WWI she stayed close to shore, patrolling home waters without incident until decommissioned in 1920.

HRMS Piet Hein

HNLMS Piet Hein in 1894 at Afgesloten

HRMS Piet Hein was laid down in 1893 at the Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij, Rotterdam. She was launched on 16 August 1894 and commissioned on 3 January 1896. On 11 May 1896 she like all other three, took part in quelling harbor strikes in Rotterdam, patrolling the Meuse and helping grenadiers deployed during the strikes, over on 21 may. In between 1900 not much happened, with the same yearly routine of exercizes as her sisters. This included gunnery exercizes.

In 1900 she departed for a long trip with the cruiser Holland and the coastal battleship Koningin Wilhelmina der Nederlanden, to Shanghai via Suez, to save guard European citizens and Dutch interests during the Boxer Rebellion. Back from there in February 1901 she was stationed to guard Soerabaja in the Dutch East Indies, separated from her sister ships until the end of her service, as she was decommissioned in 1914, likely before August, and so never saw either WWI. She was replaced on station in April by her sister HRMS Kortenaer, the only one which saw service in WWI.

Piet Hein in Van Den Helder, date unknown

All the class abchored in Amsterdam

A model of the Vertsen class, as built

Hr. Ms Evertsen in harbor

Author: naval encyclopedia

Naval Encyclopedia webmaster. Find more on the "about" page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *