Admiralen class Destroyers
The first Dutch interwar Destroyers
After two naval plans rejections in 1924, the Dutch Navy still had six pre-WWI destroyers in service. However in 1925 was approved a new naval plan to procure eight, to be built in the Netherlands, but based on a British design. The first class, the Van Ghent group, was very similar to the next, the Van Galen group commonly known as the “admiralen class”. Up to this day they are associated with the east indies campaign of WW2. They were tailored for the KNIL and saw a fierce fighting in 1942 were all were lost but one: A staggering price to pay to face the IJN at it’s mightiest…
Genesis of Development
In 1920, the Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine) had eight destroyers dating back before WW2. They were of local design through and though. The Fret (or Wolf) 510 tonnes class (launched 1910) comprised the HNLMS Fret, Wolf, Jakhals, Bulhound, the 1913 Lynx class (also Hermelijn) and the 1913 Panter class (also Vos) were all of the same tonnage a very close design.
HNLMS Wolf in Vliessingen
From the 1905 naval plan these eight voted destroyers were loosely inspired by British designs and first national destroyers designs ever. These four-funnels fleet vessels shared the same speed and range the “roodfier” class (or “predators”) only slightly varied in between them, making for two sub-classes. Of the size of the contemporary 1904 British River class they mixed Yarrow boilers and Krupp-Germania steam turbines. The last four used coasl, but with fuel injection. They were armed however lightly, with four 75 mm/52 guns and four 7.92 mm machine guns and two single 450 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes. In 1914 were the last was completed they were rather on the “light size” and soon obsolete given the path of destroyer design impovements until 1918. It was not surprising they were discarded as soon as in 1922 (Fret, Wolf), 1925 (Hermelijn), 1927 (Bulhound), 1928 (Jackhals, Lynx, Vos) and 1934 for Panther, which was used for training as the new destroyer classes were completed.
With the wave of pacifism that shook the Netherlands in 1919, drastic budget cuts and program reductions saw the navy discarding its destroyers quite quickly after barely 10 years of service. In 1925 indeed, the Navy only had Five destroyers left, meaning that if two were in maintenance/overhaul, a single flotilla of three was available at all times. A bit to defend of Dutch interests. The argument was there were still sixteen torpeod boats in support. More so, Japanese rise of nationalism in the early 1920 and naval arms race until the treaty of Washington scared the Dutch East Indies Command, which required a naval plan urgently.
In 1920 already a committee for the defence of the East Indies proposed a very ambitious plan of 24 destroyers and 32 submarines. It was rejected outright. Another, dowgraded to 12 destroyers and 16 submarines also proposed in 1923, and also rejected by the diet (Parliament). After much lobbying, negociations, concessions and further reports about the situation in the East Indies, the 1925 plan was at last approved. It was also downgraded, this time to just eight destroyers, but in two batches, FY1925 and FY1926.
Settling on a new destroyer design
HMS Ambuscade, from Yarrow. The base design for the Admiralen class.
At the time, the Navy only had the experience of the small, 1904 era Wolf design, and it was out of question to takae purely national approach and catch up. Instead, the staff naturally turned to the largest navy at the time and it’s close neighbour, the Royal Navy. In 1925, the RN had pretty decent designs inherited from WWI to choose from, in particular the large V-W and the leaders of the Scott class and following. They really set up a new worlds’s standard. Not only that, but the 1924 “A” class, it’s new modern standard.
The latter were 1,350 tonnes standard vessels with quadruple torpedo tubes banks. However the Dutch Navy had different requirements, placing the emphasis on AA while downgrading a bit the anti-ship capability, with triple tubes in instead; The two squadrons needed vessels well suited for the East Indies, and after a commission was sent in UK, touring specialist British yards for destroyers, they settled on HMS Ambuscade laid down since June 1924 in Yarrow, the lead ship of the “A class”. They negociated for the blueprints, intended to fit them with national equipmeents and make a redesign for their own needs.
HrMs Piet Hein, launched at Burgerhout’s Scheepswerf, 2 April 1927.
Eventually, the Dutch lead vessel based on this new design was approved in mid-1926 and ordered at De Schelde, Vliessingen, to be named HNLMS De Ruyter. She was laid down in N°179 yard on 28 August 1925, followed by her three sister ships at Burgerhouts. They were launched in October-Decembeer 1926 and April-June 1927, completed for the last one, Kortenaer, in September 1928. Four yars was quite long for destroyers, especially to Britush standards. But these were major ships to be built in the Netherlands and the first destroyers since twelve years, with an immense technological gap to catch up with.
HNLMS Van Ghent
The design was obtained from the Yarrow & Co yard in Glasgow. Prototypes were HMS Ambuscade and HMS Amazone, the first of the new “A” class. The first postwar British standard destroyer design, built 1924/25. Only minor changes were asked to speed up the process, and the final design was adopted by the Royal Netherlands Navy.
The first group of the Admiralen class started with Hr.ms. DeRuyter, launched in 1925-26. The second group started with Hr.ms.Van Galen, her keel laid down in 1927/28 at Maatschappij voor Scheeps and Werktuigbouw Fijenoord in Rotterdam, as well as Burgerhout`s Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek, Maasstad, like three of the previous group. They arrived in service by 1929/31 and almost identical to the first group but with a 7.5cm gun removed in favor of four 40mm Bofors guns, judged to be faster firing and much more efficient.
Protection and comparitmentation
Piet Hein and Kortenaer in construction at Burgerhout NYd
Hull and general characteristics
Displacement was 1,316 tonnes standard, and 1,640 tonnes fully loaded for an overall lenght of 93.6 between perpendiculars and 98.2m overall (), for a 9.53 m beam () and a draught of 2.97 m in normal displacement. The general design was “British-standard”.
Propulsion & Performances:
HNLMS Piet Hein at full speed
The powerplant was almost a complete copy-paste of the British A class design: They had two shaft, with Parsons geared turbines fed three Yarrow type boilers for a total output of 23,000 kW (31,000 hp). This was enough for a design speed of 36 knots (67 km/h) and a range of 3,200 nmi (5,900 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h).
It is safe to say that this new Dutch design was successful. The Admiralen-class were very seaworthy, maneuverable and fast. As a trial run was made in Scottish waters, Piet Hein achieved a top speed in excess of 36 knots, 4 knots faster than initially planned (32 knots). However they were lighter armed than the British “A” class which notably had quad torpedo tubes banks. However their strong point were excellent fire control system, entirely Dutch in origin.
12cm No4 guns in action on HNLMS Kortenaer
This was the main differenciation point with the British design: The ordnance was Swedish-derived but Dutch as the fire control systems. The Van Ghent indeed had four 120 mm (4.7 in) no.4 Bofors guns in single mounts Mark 4 (9.84 tons ,10 mt), the two deck level ones under fontal shields in classic positions at the time, in superfiring pairs fore and aft. The space in between, punctuated by the bridge, foremast and two funnels was occupied by AA, and the torpedo tubes aft. The mounts depressed at -5 and had a +30-35 degrees arc of fire either side.
These were called 12 cm/50 (4.7″) W-F Marks 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Dutch service, the Model 1924C having loose barrel construction. The Van Ghent Class had Mark 4 guns and the Van Galen Class Mark 5.
They weight each 2.95 tons (3.00 mt) with a gun Length of 251.6 in (6.390 m), and a bore Length or 236.2 in (6.000 m). Rate Of Fire was 10 rounds per minute. They fired a 52.9 lbs. (24 kg) HE shell. Its propelland charge weight 19.4 lbs. (8.8 kg) and the Cartridge: 18.3 lbs. (8.3 kg) empty. Muzzle Velocity was 2,952 fps (900 mps). At 30 degrees they reached 21,300 yards (19,500 m) but effective fire was much closer. Similar guns were used on the Swedish Destroyers of the Klas Uggla serie.
They were served by Dutch fire control systems that had excellent reputation at the time.
N°6 75 mm gun in action
These were two 3 inches Bofors (75 mm) no.6 AA guns, but i have no more infos for them (nothing on navweaps by the way, the entry does not exist yet).
They were completed at least for the Van Ghent group by four 12.7 mm (.5 in) Browning machine guns. These were well known and also used quite lioberally in the US Navy as prime AA HMG. Unfortunately when WW2 broke out they were no longer relevant. This point was improved on the next Van Galen class.
According to this source these were all British models, same the British A class destroyers. These were Type II Whitehead, Weymouth models carrying a 300 kgs warheads of trotyl. They had an overall weight of 1,525 kg, a 2 setup range of 4000 m @42 kts/10.000 m @28 kts, were introduced in 1928 and kept in service until the end of WW2. Used by the Admiralen class but also the K-11, K-14 submersibles classes. About 200 had been purchased.
The destroyers also used the rarer Type III (46 purchased), with was slightly heavier and “special” 1935 Type IV, 1,560 kgs models able to reach 46 knots on 3000 m, introduced from 1935. Only 22 were purchased but they were planned for the submarine O-16 only originally.
From the second group the survivor HNLMS Van Galen also used the Mark 8 torpedo: 68 were purchased by the KNIL duing WW2 in 1943, and they were shared with Tjerk Hiddes until 1945.
According to this source, the Admiralen class’s first group only was fitted by two rails running from the forecastle to the stern, are shown on the original plans as very close to the sides and very narrow. They are ended by two chutes at the stern, which was sloped and ended with a flat bottom. The number of mines carried was 24 but it look liked they could carry more. The second group had none, but was equipped to be fitted as minesweepers. Both also had four depth charge throwers, and a total of 12 in store.
These mines were likely of the 1921 Vickers Mk T 2 Contact models with Horns, Led Hertz chromic acid filled, 441 lbs (200 kg) trotyl warhead, 104 cm in diameter, 2,061 lbs (935 kg) and 82 fathoms (150 m) max mooring wire. In additiont to those purchased, Rijkswerf Willemsoord managed to built 400 for a total of 1351 in 1939.
Van Bertel WA floatplane on HNLMS Java
Quite unique for their time, these destroyers were also fitted to manage a single Van Berkel W-A observation floatplane. This was quite rare on destroyers. Due to stability issue, this WWI Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 model built under licence in the Netherlands in the 1920s only weighted 1,454 kg (3,206 lb) when fully loaded. It was stored onboard but photos showing its use are scarce. 35 W.12s were manufactured under licence, acquired in 1919, by Van Berkel of Rotterdam as the W-A with a Benz engine. They had an autonomy of 3 hours 30 minutes. They served with the Dutch Naval Air Service until 1933. So well before WW2 they were no longer used. However Eversten and Witte de With carried a to aid search operations a more modern Fokker C.VII-W floatplane, also mounted on the same platform over the aft torpedo tubes and lowered by crane.
The Van Galen class differences
The next Van Galen class
Although they had the same hull, displacement, and powerplant, the main variations of the second group was about the armament: First off, they replaced their Bofors by locally-produced no. 5 HIH Siderius guns. These were derivatived of the Krupp 7.5 cm Model 1903 field guns, which licence was acquired in 1905 and 120 were manufactured locally and modernized by a local Dutch subsidiary of Krupp called Siderius. The 1920s improvements over the model led to the long-range 7 veld, which was adopted for the Van Galen class. No more info on these.
Also as said above, one 75 mm AA gun was sacrificed (while the other was no longer a Bofors but the a no.7 (VG, WW) and a no.8 AA HIH Siderius on BK, VN. In place of the missing second, the space was occuppied by four Vickers N°1 2-pdr AA QF “pompom” guns. They also still had their four Browning cal.50 right up to WW2. The crew was also slightly different between the two also: 129 for the 1st, and 120 for the second, possibly because the new armament was less labor-intensive.
Succession: The Callenburgh class
With a new naval plan voted in 1937, resulting of the situation degrading in China (Marco Polo bridge incident and then attack on Shanghai), the Gerard Callenburgh class was ordered. Again, the Admiralty trusted a British design and they were close to the “F” class. Four ships were ordered to various yards: Gerard Callenburgh at Rotterdam on 12 October 1938, Isaac Sweers at KM de Schelde on 26 November 1938, Tjerk Hiddes also at RDM Rotterdam on1 October 1938 and Philips van Almonde at De Schelde. However if they were launched in October 1939 for the two at De Schelde, Swers was only launched on 16 March 1940 and not completed as the invasion troo place in May. She was amazingly towed to England and completed there, fighting in the Mediterranean with the Royal Navy. Callenburgh was scuttled but salvaged and completed by the Germans as ZH1. Hiddes was BU as Van Almonde.
⚙ Van Ghent class specifications
|Dimensions||98 x 9.53 x 2.97 m (321 x 31 x 9.9 feets)|
|Displacement||1,316 tons standard, 1,640 tons Fully Loaded|
|Propulsion||2 shafts Parsons turbines, 3 Yarrow boilers, 31,000 hp (23,000 Kw).|
|Speed||36 knots (67 km/h)|
|Range||3,200 nm (5,900 km) @ 15 knots.|
|Armament||4× 4.7-in (120 mm), 2x 3-in (75mm), 4x 0.5 in HMG (12.7mm), 2×3 21-in TTs (533mm), see notes|
HNLMS Van Ghent (1926)
Named at first De Ruyter until 1933, she was renamed Van Ghent, as known today. She was ordered at N°179 yard Koninklijke Maatschappij De Schelde, Vlissingen and laid down on 8.1925, launched on 23.10.1926 and completed in 5.1928. After completed sea trials, being commissioned and make a shakedown cruise, she was with her sister Evertsen away at sea from 27 September 1928 in direction of the Dutch East Indies, her permament assignation.
HNLMS DE RUYTER near Sydney Harbour Bridge, 3 October 1930
On 29 July 1929, with Evertsen and the cruiser HNLMS Java, plus the submarines K II and K VII she left Surabaya for Tanjung Priok. There, they greeted the Thai royal yacht, Maha Chakri hosting the king of Siam in a state visit, escorted by the destroyer Phra Ruang. The flotilla left the the submarines there and moved to Bangka, Belitung, Riau, Lingga Islands, Belawan, and Deli. On 28 August they were back to their home base Tanjung Priok. On 31 August was held there a fleet review in honor of the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands born that day. She was still close to Evertsen and Java, both destroyers being assigned as her escort.
While practicing with HNLMS Sumatra and her sister ship Evertsen plus five submarines, she tried to help Sumatra, soon stranded on an uncharted reef off Kebatoe island on 14 May 1931. She was later pulled free by the gunbopat HNLMS Soemba and a tugboat.
Hr. Ms. De Ruijter prior to 1934 (later Van Ghent). Note the identifier “DR”
From 1st October 1934, De Ruyter was renamed Van Ghent as the name was secired for another ship in construction, the light cruiser De Ryuter intended as the future flasghip of the KNIL. North much happened for the remainder of the year, between escorts and exercizes between the east indies and Java sea.
Van Ghent, Banckert and a gunboat prewar (after 1934) in curacao, Dutch East Indies.
In March-April 1940, before the German invasion took place in their home country, Van Ghent and Kortenaer were escorting five German cargo ships, relieved by HNLMS Java on 26 April 1940. Soon after May 1940 with the state of war with Germany they started patrols in search of possible German vessels in the east indies waters. As the war broke out in December 1941 in the Pacific, both were still in the Netherlands East Indies, assigned to Rear Admiral Karel Doorman’s command. She took partr in the salvage of US cargo ship USAT Liberty.
3–4 February 1942, led by HNLMS De Ruyter, she was in ABDA command, taking part in an unsuccessful attempt to attack a Japanese invasion convoy heading allegedly for Surabaya (Makassar in reality). The following battle of Makassar Strait, saw Allied forces driven off and damaged, notably due to air attacks. Doorman later made another sortie on 15 February 1942, located the Japanese them northwest in the Gaspar Strait, east of Bangka Island, but as it happened by night, the escorting HNLMS Van Ghent, at high speed, struck a rock and remained stranded. Anther Dutch destroyer tried to pull her out, but after inspection she was was considered a wreck, evacuated and scuttled by HNLMS Banckert with torpedoes and gunfire, not to fall into Japanese hands.
HNLMS Eversten (1926)
Eversten (Code “EV”) was laid down on 5 August 1925, at the Burgerhout’s Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek, Rotterdam. Launched on 29 December 1926 she was completed and commissioned on 12 April 1928. With her her sister HrMs De Ruyter she departed the Netherlands for the East Indies on 27 September 1928. On 29 July 1929, with Java, and the submarines K II and K VII she left Surabaya for Tanjung Priok, waiting for the royal yacht Maha Chakri (Siamese state visit). They later visited Bangka, Belitung, Riau, Lingga Islands, Belawan, and Deli and back to Tanjung Priok on 28 August.
On the 31 she took part in a naval review in Tanjung Priok for the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. She practiced with Sumatra, De Ruyter and five submarines when stranded on an uncharted reef, near Kebatoe, on 14 May 1931. HrMs Sumatra managed to tow her out free, assisted by HrMs Soemba and a tugboat. On 13 November 1936 with Sumatra and Java, Evertsen, Witte de With, and Piet Hein she made a visit to Singapore.
From 1940 she was used as a convoy escort in the Dutch East Indies and around, and by late February 1942 after the Battle of the Java Sea under command of Luitenant ter zee W. M. De Vries, she was ordered to escape from Tanjung Priok, and take redige to Tjilatjap, via the Sunda Strait, escorting HMAS Perth and USS Houston. Both departed in the morning on 28 February, but Evertsen was delayed for two hours. The allied cruisers would soon met the Japanese invasion fleet (two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, nine destroyers) covering a landing at Banten Bay, east of Sunda Strait, and engaged in a ferocious night action, fatal to both cruisers.
HrMs Evertsen arrived too late to help, only sighting gunfire,and the captan decided to evade, but she was soon spotted by the IJN destroyers Murakumo and Shirakumo in the Strait. An artillery duel started, until Eversten was overhwhelm, loosing her guns one after the others and on fire. Her hull was crippled and she started slowing down and listing. Captain De Vries however spitted a reef near Sebuku Island and managed to steer her ship there, saving the crew which abandoned ship just as the aft magazine exploded. They were all captured and taken prisoner by the Japanese on 9–10 March 1942. Most of them did not survived as POWs.
HNLMS Piet Hein (1927)
HNLMS Piet Hein ship was laid down on 26 August 1925 at Burgerhout’s Scheepswerf, launched on 2 April 1927, commissioned on 25 January 1929. She was soon sent to the East Indies after some training and her shakedown cruise in home waters.
On 23 August 1936, Piet Hein, Java and Sumatra, also escort by her sisters Van Galen and Witte de With were showcased at the “fleet days” held at Surabaya. On 13 November 1936 the same, plus Evertsen, visited Singapore and made a goodwill tour of the South China Sea. On 13 October 1938, she collided with Java in the Sunda Strait and the later had to be repaired at Surabaya, herself was less damaged (she rammed Java, not the contrary).
As the war broke out she patrolled the waters of Netherlands East Indies in search of German vessels, and in late 1941, she was at Surabaya. She took part in Battle of Badung Strait in the night of 18–19 February 1942, torpedoed and sunk by the IJN Asashio. She went down with 64 men, including captain J.M.L.I. Chömpff.
Piet Hein in her early years
HNLMS Piet Hein departing Soerabaja
Piert Hein (“PH”)
HNLMS Kortenaer (1927)
HNLMS Kortenaer, also from Burgerhout’s Scheepswerf, launched on 30 June 1927, was commissioned on 3 September 1928 and sailed for the East Indies. On 11 June 1929, she carried a detachment of marines to Curaçao to deal with the Venezuelan coup led by Rafael Simón Urbina on Fort Amsterdam (Willemstad), since 8 June. Not much happened until early 1940, when with Van Ghent she guarded five German cargo ships. Based in Surabaya she took part in the fierce fighting of 1942:
Taking part in Battle of Badung Strait on 18–20 February 1942, she ran aground on a channel shore after losing rudder control and could not return to the formation, waiting for the next morning tide to be free, and moved to Surabaya for repairs. She took part in the Battle of the Java Sea on 27 February 1942. At 17:14 the cruiser IJN Haguro fire torpedoes and she was hot at least by one.
Captain Alexander Sharp from USS John D. Edwards nearby recorded that she was 700 yards (640 m) away, when struck on the starboard quarter. She blew up and quickly turned over, cut in tow, sinking rapidly with only the bow and stern staying afloat before disappering. Nevertheless, HMS Encounter would later rescue 113 men including Lt. Cdr A. Kroese. They were carried to Surabaya.
Her wreck was rediscovered by a specialist divers team in August 2004 after HNLMS De Ruyter and in December 2002. However despite being classes as war graves, in 2016 a survey showed they had completely vanished, picked up by illegal scavengers, a fate similar to about 200 wrecks in that region.
HNLMS Van Galen (1928)
Hr Ms Van Galen in 1929
Laid down on 28 May 1927 at Fijenoord, launched 28 June 1928, commissioned on 22 October 1929 she trained and made her shakedown cruiser until departing fior the East Indies. On 22 February 1932, HNLMS Van Galen was based on Surabaya, leaving for a goodwill tour of the south China sea and arriving in Shanghai, beng back in April. On 16 November 1935, she visited Saigon. On 23 August 1936, with other DDs and HNLMS Java, she took part in fleet days at Surabaya.
On 16 August 1937 she was in Shanghai to safeguiard Dutch citizen’s interest due to the rising political tension with the Japanese and landed 150 marines to protect European citizens, evacuating many. On 8 May 1940, she was back in the Netherlands and on 10 May war broke out. When the Waalhaven arifield near Rotterdam was seized, it was close enough for HNLMS Van Galen to shell it; Soon she was attacked by the luftwaffe and she sank near Merwehaven. Raised by the Germans on 23 October 1941 she wreck was scrapped later scapped at Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht.
HNLMS Witte de With (1928)
Witte de With in 1938
Witte de With was built at Fijenoord, launched 11 September 1928, commissioned on 20 February 1930. She sailed for the East Indies and on 16 November 1935, with Van Galen, and Sumatra, visited Saigon and in August 1936, participated in the fleet days in Surabaya. On 13 November she visited Singapore after some gunnery and manoeuver practice in the South China Sea.
In December 1941 she was mobilized for war against the Japanese, and after a convoy escort, took part in the Battle of the Java Sea on 27 February 1942. As the heavy British cruiser HMS Exeter was badly damaged in action, she was escorted back to Surabaya by HNLMS Witte de With. She was attacked on 1 March 1942 by IJN aviation and crippled, but still afloat. Her captain decided to abandon ship and have her scuttled. Most of her crew survived.
Witte de With in curaçao, Dutch West Indies (Caribbean)
Witte de With at Den Helder c1935
HrMs Witte de With date unknown
HNLMS Banckert (1929)
HNLMS Banckert in 1934
HrMs Banckert was laid down on 15 August 1928 at Burgerhout, launched on 14 November 1929, commissioned on 14 November 1930. She soon sailed for the Dutch East indies and on 20 October 1936, she tried to rescue the cargo ship Van der Wijck (Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij) which capsized in the Java Sea. She was able to save 210 sailors out of 261. On 14 February 1942, Van Ghent was stranded on a reef and she was impossible to set free. Her captain ordered to abandon ships and she was set on fire, the crew taken on board Banckert which finished her off. This was the result of the action at Palembang.
On 24-28 February 1942, HNLMS Banckert was attacked Japanese Aviation while docked at Tanjung Priok. She was so badly damaged that she was scuttled in situ, on 2 March to avoid catpure. On 20 March 1944, the Japanese, which badly needed ships, made the effort of raising her up, repair her at Cavite Naval Base. On 20 April, so just a month later she was reclassified her as Patrol Boat No. 106, but effort were never finished, as the Philippines Fell and Banckert was reacquired by the Dutch Navy after the war, not completed but expended as target ship in the Madura Strait, in September 1949.
HNLMS Van Nes (1930)
HrMs Van Nes in 1931
Van Nes was started on 15 August 1928 at Burgerhout, launched on 20 March 1930, completed and commissioned on 12 March 1931. As her first missions she escorted the submarine K XIII back to Surabaya to be repaired after a battery explosion in Singapore. It was on 21 December 1941 and they arrived on 6 January 1942, while the Japanese were attacking many objectives, and had the Dutch East Indies in their scope.
On 16 February 1942, HrMs Van Nes was ordered to sail to Belitung, meeting there KPM ship SS Sloet van der Beele, and from there they went to Tanjung Pandan, to evacuate the Dutch population to Java. They arrived on 17 February, taking up 400 soldiers and civilians on board. Van Nes stayed away keep patrolling. They were underway to Batavia two hours later when Van Nes spotted an approaching unidentified airplane which turned out to be a Japanese. Van Nes tried to shoot her down with her 75 mm and 40 mm artillery, but the scout took altitude and reported their positions.
After shadowing them for 30 minutes outside AA range, it left and a ship was spotted far away, rhat the staff onboard eventually identified as enemy destroyer or cruiser. Van Nes took the initiative of the fight to cover the SS Sloet van der Beele, going full speed ahead and ordering general quarters. She opened fire at 14,000 meters (8.7 mi) and until the distance fell to 4,000 meters (2.5 mi), after 16 salvos and scoring hits, stopping as the ship was eventually identified as… fellow destroyer destroyer HrMs Van Ghent. The latter, crippled, was scuttled on 15 February, beaching on a reef.
Van Nes resumed her escort of Sloet van der Beele, both at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) until at 13:00, Van Nes spotted a formation of twenty Japanese bombers. She tried to shoot some down with AA guns but this was superfluitous. The bombers soon attacked, framed Sloet van der Beele, which had four near-misses and a direct hit. Exploding, she sank in just five minutes, taking with her 249 people to be bottom. 203 survived but could not be helped by Van Nes, that fought desperately for two hours, dodging bombs and firing at full speed, rudder hard port and starboard. She managed to survive the attack.
At some point these bombers left, while from the other side was spotted another group of aircraft, believed at first to be British. The relief was short as they turned out Japanese. In fact they came from the Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūjō. Althouygh until there she had avoided any direct hit, several near misses had badly shaken her hull and left some damage. A new harrowing fight went on at 15:20 and ten minutes later, she suffered two direct hits, at the stern and amidships. As the result, she broke in two and sunk, carrying with her 68 men. The survivors were picked up by the Japanese and most would later die as POWs. In fact, if the air attack was not sufficient, the Japanese planned to intercept her with IJN Chōkai and the destroyers Shirakumo and Isonami.
On the morning of 19 February, a scout reported survivors at sea 100 miles (160 km) from Tanjung Priok and at 12:15, a British destroyer was ordered there, but found nothing and had to fold back. The Marine Luchtvaart Dienst later launched a broad search in the area, until the evening of 20 February and the minesweeper Ceram managed to rescue some although contact was lost later, presumed destroyed by the IJN. All in all there were 226 survivors from both vessels rescued.
HNLMS Piet Hein in Soerabaja
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Model Kits: 1/350 Resin Admiralen class Dutch destroyer (1 series) Pacific CrossRoads.