De Zeven Provinciën-class cruiser

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De Ruyter (C801).jpg
HNLMS De Ruyter
Class overview
Builders: Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij
Wilton-Fijenoord
Operators:  Royal Netherlands Navy
 Peruvian Navy
Preceded by: Tromp class
Succeeded by: None
In service: 1953
Completed: 2
Active: BAP Almirante Grau
(ex-De Ruyter)
Laid up: BAP Aguirre
(ex-De Zeven Provinciën)
General characteristics
Displacement: 12,040 tonnes
Length: 187.32 m
Beam: 17.25 m
Draught: 6.72 m
Propulsion: 4 Werkspoor-Yarrow three-drum boilers
2 De Schelde Parsons geared steam turbines
2 shafts
85,000 shp
Speed: 32 knots
Range: 7,000 nm at 12 knots
Complement: 973
Armament: 8 × 152 mm main guns
8 × 57 mm AA guns
8 × 40 mm AA guns
Armor: 50-76 mm belt
50-125 mm turrets
50-125 mm conning tower

The De Zeven Provinciën-class (also called Eendracht-class) is a class of light cruisers. They were built by Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM) and Wilton-Fijenoord for the Royal Netherlands Navy. The name De Zeven Provinciën refers to the seven provinces which formed the Dutch Republic in 1581.

Design[edit]

In the 1930s there was an increased awareness in the Netherlands about the threat which the Imperial Japanese Navy posed to the Dutch East Indies. To face this, the Koninklijke Marine embarked on a major naval expansion program in 1932, which included building two new light cruisers as replacements for the aging Java-class cruisers. The design was an improvement of the earlier HNLMS De Ruyter and both ships were laid down in 1939. The first was named Kijkduin, later changed to Eendracht, and the second one received the name De Zeven Provinciën, hence the name of the class.

However, construction was interrupted by the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands on 10 May 1940. The Germans continued work on De Zeven Provinciën which was more advanced than its twin; it was renamed KH2 and modified by fitting an Atlantik Bow. Work progressed very slowly as the dockyards' capacity was used for other purposes and sabotage by the Dutch resistance affected progress. On 24 December 1944, KH2 was launched for use as a blockship in the Nieuwe Waterweg of Rotterdam but this action was never carried out.

After the end of World War II, construction resumed on both ships to a modified design which incorporated the lessons of the war. Armament was modified from two triple and two twin Bofors 152/53 mm guns, six twin 40 mm AA and two triple 533 mm torpedo tubes to four twin Bofors 152/53 mm guns, four twin Bofors 57/60 mm guns and eight single Bofors 40/70 mm guns. An improved propulsion plant was fitted as well as a second funnel and advanced electronics. Names were also changed with Eendracht becoming De Zeven Provinciën and the former De Zeven Provinciën being renamed De Ruyter. Both ships were finally commissioned by the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1953.

Ships in class[edit]

There are two ships in the class: HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (renamed De Ruyter in 1947) and Kijkduin (renamed Eendracht c. 1940, De Ruyter in 1944 and De Zeven Provinciën in 1947). Both ships have enjoyed long service lives, first in the Koninklijke Marine (until the early 1970s) and then in the Marina de Guerra del Perú.

Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned
De Zeven Provinciën 19 May 1939 22 August 1950 17 December 1953 16 October 1975
De Ruyter 5 September 1939 24 December 1944 18 November 1953 12 October 1972

Royal Netherlands Navy[edit]

De Zeven Provinciën operating with the USS Essex in 1967.

In Dutch service both ships participated in several NATO exercises, and were frequently used as flagships for different naval task forces. Between 1962 and 1964, the De Zeven Provinciën underwent a refit by RDM which included the removal of the two aft turrets and the installation of a RIM-2 Terrier SAM system. Lack of funds precluded the same modifications from being carried out in the De Ruyter, which was decommissioned in 1973. Her sister ship followed suit in 1976; the cruisers were replaced in Dutch service by the two Tromp-class frigates.

Peruvian Navy[edit]

De Ruyter was acquired by the Peruvian Navy and recommissioned in 1973 as BAP Almirante Grau. The De Zeven Provinciën was also bought in 1976, its RIM-2 Terrier SAM was removed and replaced by a hangar and a flight deck for ASH-3D Sea King helicopters, and recommissioned in 1978 as BAP Aguirre. From 1985 until 1988 the Almirante Grau underwent a major modernization by Amsterdam Naval Services (ANS), which has allowed the ship to remain in service, whereas the Aguirre was decommissioned in 1999.

Sources[edit]

  • Moore, John (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1974-75. Franklin Watts Inc., 1975.
  • (Spanish) Rodríguez Asti, John, Cruceros. Buques de la Marina de Guerra del Perú desde 1884. Dirección de Intereses Marítimos, 2000.