Fop Smit

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Fop Smit

Fop Smit (11 October 1777 – 25 August 1866) was a Dutch naval architect, shipbuilder, and shipowner. He founded the towage and salvage company L. Smit & Co that is now part of Smit International. His shipyard had a number of "firsts" in shipbuilding and produced a number of famous vessels.

Family life[edit]

Smit was born in Alblasserdam, the son of Jan Foppe Smit and Marrijgje Ceele. He married Jannigje Pieterse Mak on 29 June 1806 in Alblasserdam.

Business history[edit]

After the death of his father Jan (on whose yard he had worked before then as a shipwright) Fop Smit took over the management of the yard, together with his brother Jan in 1820. They built an early wooden river steamboat, Willem I, in 1825. This design (by the Frisian marine architect Van Loon) was so successful that they soon had orders for another five steamships. After the association between the brothers ended in 1828, Fop Smit received an order for the first Dutch seagoing steamship, Batavier from the Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij in Rotterdam. This ship was launched in 1830. It plied the Rotterdam-London route.[1]

Smit built his first ocean-going ship, intended for the trade on the East Indies at his yard in Kinderdijk in 1838.

On 6 November 1842 Smit contracted with 47 Rotterdam shipowners and maritime insurers to build a steam tug and station it in Hellevoetsluis for towage work. The tug Kinderdijk was launched on 31 August 1843 and put in service by December of that year. By the time of his death in 1866 the company owned nine paddle steamer tugboats.

In 1847 his yard built the first iron ship in the Netherlands, the brigantine Industrie, for the account of the Rotterdam shipowner Willem Ruys. This was followed in 1853 by the first Dutch iron clipper ship California, built for the account of the Amsterdam firm Louis Bienfait & Zn. This ship on its maiden voyage reached its destination Port Adelaide in Australia with British emigrants on board in 86 days under captain Jaski. Other famous clippers, built by the yard, were Noach I through VI. Noach I sailed in 65 days from Anyer on the Sunda Strait to The Lizard in 1867.

Smit also branched out to naval construction. His Kinderdijk yard in 1856 built two schooner-rigged screw-steam corvettes: Zr. Ms. Bali for the Dutch navy, and Japan for the Japanese shōgun.[2] The latter ship sailed with a Dutch naval detachment to Nagasaki in Japan under Lt. Willem Huyssen van Kattendijke in 1857. Japan was later renamed Kanrin Maru, the first screw-driven Japanese steam warship. Several ships built in Fop Smit's shipyards became involved in the naval engagements of the Boshin War.

The last ship Fop Smit laid down was the clipper Nestor, but he died in Nieuw-Lekkerland at age 89 before he could complete this. After his death, his son Leendert took over the management of the yard.

The Smit shipyard was one of the Dutch shipyards that eventually became part of the IHC Gusto Engineering and SBM Offshore marine and offshore engineering firms.


  1. ^ Vos, R. de (2003) Nederlandse Clippers, Uitgeverij Van Wijnen, ISBN 90-5194-267-2, pp. 136-137
  2. ^ *H. Huygens, "Z.M. schroef-schooner Bali," in: Verhandelingen en berigten betrekkelijk het zeewezen en de zeevaartkunde, vol. 17 (1857), pp. 178–183

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