Talk:Royal Netherlands Navy

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" The highest rank in the Navy, that of full (5 star) admiral, is reserved for "Hij die zich koning der Nederlanden mag noemen" (He who may call himself King of The Netherlands), i.e. without a King in power, the rank of admiral would be suspended until a new king has been coronated. "

This statement is a popular misconception and widespread among the Netherlands Navy. In fact, there is no law which limits the rank of admiral to a king. Actually, there has never been a king with this rank. The idea that the rank has been suspended, because there is no king in power is also wrong: 1) Netherlands constitution makes no difference between a king and a queen, officially the present queen is in fact a "king" (!) and 2) the office of "stadhouder", as well of it's combining military ranks of "admiraal-generaal" and "kapitein-generaal" could be hold by both men and women since the 18th century. Therefore, it should be possible for queens to hold the rank of admiraal. The reason theye didn't is probably there lack of enthusiasm for the military.

The rank of "admiraal" was called into existence in 1839 by king Willem I, who promoted his son, allready secretary of war, secretary of the navy and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Later in the 19th century prince Hendrik got the rank, given by his elder brother king Willem III, as a salute to his long career in the navy. 6 days later prince Hendrik died.

Note that the rank was carried by 2 princes and not by kings.

Since the fifties the rank is not longer mentioned in official protocols, therefore not longer in existence.

Netherlands or Dutch?[edit]

The term Royal Netherlands Navy seems really odd to me, wouldn't Royal Dutch Navy makes much more sense? For instance, it's Royal Norwegian Navy and not Royal Norway Navy.

That's the official name of our Navy, and in fact all other branches of the Dutch armed forces are named in a similar manner. See for instance this page of the Dutch ministry of defence [1]: Royal Netherlands Navy, Royal Netherlands Army, Royal Netherlands Air Force, and Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. --Codemonkey 23:01, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Presumably you're talking about in Dutch, where the "s" at the end of "Nederland" makes it an adjective. Using "Netherlands" in this way in English is rather unusual, but I don't think it is incorrect. Koekemakranka (talk) 23:44, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

I also think it is made to avoid confusion as many people don't know that the Dutch are from the Netherlands. When its called Royal Netherlands Navy there can be no mistakes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dutchdoc (talkcontribs) 13:24, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

Structure of fleet[edit]

The ships listed in the fleet are hard to comprehend. E.g. 12 frigates mentioned of which 10 in service (where are the other 2??). And all the information about sales to e.g. Belgium do not help understanding. Also mixing ships with helicopters is a bit confusing. Perhaps an idee to list the material in classes ships -> fighting ships-> frigates -> class of frigate -> name of ships if known and then up to destroyer->class etc. Adn all the way up to e.g. aircraft -> helicopters ...etc Arnoutf 21:22, 4 February 2006 (UTC)


Of 8 ships built, still 5 are in service. Two were sold to Chile (1 to be delivered next year, but decommissioned this year). Contracts for delevery of 4 more ships to Belgium and Portugal have been signed, but those ships (except for 1) are still in servive with the navy. RobbyD 14:59, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Idiots...[edit] me don't understand Wikipedia wisdom. Why do you keep adding an entirely empty section? Are apologies in order because you all breached AGF? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:15, 10 September 2009 (UTC)


There is a discussion on the Frigate article which editors here may be interested in. (talk) 10:12, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Call for change[edit]

This sentence from section World_War_II does not make much sense: "The Dutch navy was stationed in Papua until it was turned over to the Indonesians in 1962, because the action from the Military of Indonesia, supported by the modern military equipments from Soviet Union, as the order of President Sukarno to integrate it into as one of Indonesian provinces." --Mortense (talk) 11:17, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Date of founding[edit]

The organization today known as the Royal Netherlands Navy was obviously not founded on January 8 1488, as previously claimed in the infobox (I removed it outright). If this were true, it would pre-date even the founding of the Netherlands. There's obviously plenty of naval pre-history, but that does not equate to the modern navy. For example, the fleet of the Dutch Republic consisted of the navies of five separate admiralties (in Amsterdam, the Maze, Middelburg, Hoorn/Enkhuizen and Harlingen) with separate administration, shipyards and revenues (see N.A.M. Rodger, Command of the Ocean, 2004 p. 10).

The current state of the Netherlands dates back to 1815, so that seems like a more relevant founding date. Does anyone have any actual sources on this?

Peter Isotalo 15:12, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

A state institution can be in continuous existence from before the current state. The states general (Dutch parliament) also predates the current Dutch state by several centuries. Dutch navy claims continuous existence since 1488 [2] with the prefix Royal being bestowed on the existing organisation in 1813. So I do not see any reason to doubt this. Arnoutf (talk) 15:41, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
That link is to the Netherlands defence forces' own webpage which makes a bold claim that Maximilian II (1527-76) founded a "permanent, organized naval power" for the Netherlands. Which is of course rubbish, since the Netherlands didn't exist at the time. It makes no attempt whatsoever to justify this and whoever wrote it didn't even bother to check that it would have actually been Maximilian I (1459-1519). That's obviously not a reliable source.
A state institution is tied to an actual state. It's simply not possible for it to exist before that. It's like saying that the US Army existed as soon as the first English-speaking settler picked up a weapon on North American soil. The current Russian Navy isn't backdated to either 1917 or 1696. It came into existence with the state it currently serves. I see absolutely no reason to consider the current navy of the Netherlands different.
Peter Isotalo 02:59, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
So the French navy cannot be older than the current French state (1958)? And if you take your own reasoning (a state institution cannot predate a state) the Icelandic Althing cannot predate the foundation of the Icelandic republic in 1944. That seems to me as a fairly extreme stance on history of state institutions. What academic publications support that idea?
For the Netherlands navy. I provided a primary source (not the best but not necessarily unreliable) for 1488. Since the navy exist it must have a foundation date. So if you do not agree with the date of 1488 please provide a reliably sourced alternative date. Outright removal of a sourced claim is just not acceptable without providing a fair alternative. Arnoutf (talk) 09:20, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
If you want to have a "founding date" parameter that is as strictly defined as is expected from an infobox, you can't just pick the earliest possible moment when a similar activity was first attested. The Althing article doesn't make an infobox claim that it was "founded" in the 10th century. The history section says something like it, but at least it presents the history around it. The wording could be nuanced in my view, but at least it's not presented as a precise, unquestionable infobox claim.
I don't see my stance as the least bit extreme, just consistent. The current French Navy is definitely not older than the current French state, just like the German Navy, Italian Navy or Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force aren't. This obviously can't be decided merely by whether a given nation happened to have been on the losing side in WWII. This doesn't prevent us from presenting a nuanced, well-balanced description of pre-history.
The claim made by the Netherlands Navy's website, however, is clearly an expression of opinion, not historical fact. It refers directly to a decision by the Holy Roman Emperor whose role is no way equivalent to any modern or historical Dutch institution. It would be as irrelevant as backdating the Belgian Navy to similar decisions. This is the navy's view of their own history. It's quite relevant to mention, but not something that should be in the infobox uncritically.
Peter Isotalo 16:33, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Interesting that the French Navy article list 1624 date in its infobox, while the current French state is definitely younger. Also the Royal Navy list 1660 as foundation date in that infobox. Yet the United Kingdom only came into existence in 1707 and if we consider Ireland the current United Kingdom only came into existence in 1922. Following your reasoning the current institution Royal navy did not exist during WWI.
The fleet of the Habsburg Netherlands - Republic of the Netherlands - Netherlands has continuously existed since its creation was supported by the Habsburg overlords. The Belgian navy has no such continuous existence. That the role of medieval rulers is non equivalent to modern institutions is utterly irrelevant, as that also goes for any monarch/feudal state indeed the Danish monarchy is a completely different institution than the Danish monarchy from 1488. Arnoutf (talk) 16:47, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Here[3] is an example of an independent historical view of the origins of a Dutch navy. As would be expected from serious historical sources, it makes no claims of specific dates of founding when discussing pre-history. That's something that is reserved for when specific organizations or institutions came into being, not just related or similar activities.
Jan Glete's Navies and Nations (vol. 1 pp. 152-158) discusses the rise of Dutch naval power, but never even hints at a 1488 starting date. That's not surprising, since one of Glete's main points is that permanent state navies didn't even exist before at least the 16th century. And this isn't a contentious theory since standing armies and the fiscal-military states that financed them is clearly entrenched in European historiography as something that belongs to the early modern period.
By contrast, this article does not rely on a single reliable source for any pre-modern history. It all goes back to the Dutch navy's own interpretation of its history. Kinda like quoting IKEA or Chiquita to be reliable sources for their respective backgrounds. In any other context, self-descriptions like this would be used with caution. We can't let down our guard with excuses like "it must have a foundation date".
Peter Isotalo 17:11, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Actually the source you provide gives 1597 as foundation date. Arnoutf (talk) 17:19, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The French Navy says "active", not "foundation". I'm quite prepared to question that too, but at least it's supported by the existence of a French state. The Royal Navy as an institution can actually be traced back to 1660 and, at least to British naval historians like N.A.M., transcends the establishment of the United Kingdom in 1707. Again, might also be worth discussion, but at least it's supported by third-party sources. And, more importantly, there was a well-established English state in 1660.
But we're not discussing other stuff here. We're discussing the origins of the modern Dutch navy as an organization. You seem to have very strong opinions about the backdating of the institutions of nation states. This is a discussion that is supposed to be based this on reliable sources. So what do you have that supports your views on this?
Peter Isotalo 17:31, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Active might work here too. As far as I have checked this the following dates could be relevant. 1488: Maximilian of Habsburg sets the "ordonnantie van admiraliteit" which consolidates the naval power of the Habsburg Netherlands in a single organization. This is the date the navy itself sees as its founding date [4]. In 1597 the Republic of the United Netherlands, reorganized the admiralties into 5 provincial admiralties. So arguably that date could be considered a foundation date as well. In 1795 the Batavian republic brought all admiralties under a single command. In 1810 the Netherlands were annexed by France and its navy formally dissolved (although major naval power in the Caribbean and the far east were not under French power). 7 December 1813 William I restored the navy. For the rest the institution appears to have been remarkably stable through the centuries.
So it seems that the admiralty founded by Maximilian in 1488 was an organization that was later adopted by the republic (1597), and then reformed to a central navy (in 1795), restored after occupation in 1813. Each of these dates could be considered "a" foundation date of the Dutch navy, but all (except the 1488 year) inherited much of its organization, institution and history from its predecessor.
As with much in history the boundaries are not so clear, especially since the way we deal with modern institutions is indeed very different from the way it was done in the late middle ages/early modern time. Arnoutf (talk) 20:53, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────An organizations own version of its history ranks fairly low in these cases. There is absolutely no specification what the "statute of admiralty" actually is. There are also no grounds that the geographical concept of the Netherlands (essentially the Low Countries) should be directly equated with the later Dutch republic or the modern state of the Netherlands. Unless reliable third part historical sources agree on this, it remains the opinion of the navy. It's definitely worthy of notice, but it does not belong in the infobox. WP:UGC applies here and a brief repetition of the navy's own views on website of the NPO doesn't confirm anything.
I've mentioned Glete's presentation already, which does not backdate the Dutch navy to the late 15th century. Rodger's Command of the Ocean (2004, pp. 9ff) makes this very concise statement: "The Dutch constitution shaped the Dutch navy". To support this, Rodger cites the works of Jaap R. Bruijn, especially Varend Verleden: De Nederlandse Oorlogsvloot in de 17de en 18de eeuw and the shorter English-language version The Dutch Navy of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. That the (one?) admiralty established by Maximilian I is essentially the the same as the five admiralties of the Dutch Republic is based your own assumptions, not reliable sources.
By your own account there actually seems to have been a very distinct break between the navy of the Dutch Republic and the Batavian Republic, and another one between 1810-13: five admiralties became one, the old navy was formally abolished for several years, a new state with a new navy came into being. Doesn't seem "remarkably stable" at all. Definitely no more stable than the difference between the Soviet Navy and the Russian Navy. Or the modern Russian navy compared to the Imperial Russian Navy.
Peter Isotalo 00:17, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

Btw, I removed Julian Stockwin's website as a source outright and nuanced the claim that the Dutch navy was the most powerful navy in the world at one time. It's an exceptional claim that requires an exceptional source. The website of a writer of "action-adventure historical fiction" is not particularly exceptional.
According to the comparative tables of both numbers of ships and tonnage in Jan Glete's Navies and Nations (vol 2, pp. 550-51, 575, 639-41), the Dutch navy was slightly larger (129 ships) than the English navy (104 ships) around 1670. It also had slightly more ships than the French navy (120 ships) at that time, but they were of appreciably lesser total tonnage (102,100 tons compared to 114,000 tons).
Peter Isotalo 01:00, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
Now you overinterpret abolishment of the navy during the 3 years the Netherlands were annexed by France. If we take that stance there is an even larger discontinuity in 1940-1945 when the Netherlands were annexed by Nazi Germany. You try to pinpoint black and white divisions. History not so black and white, it is more of a continuous process. That makes setting dates very difficult. In some cases (like the Russian navy) an institution makes it very simple by giving a recent uncontroversial date. In other cases (such as the Netherlands navy) an institution claims to be a continuation of an earlier institution. The decision which claims are ok and which not are based on editorial judgement.
You ask for a reliable source with the foundation date of the Netherlands navy. I provide their own claim. I think it has now become time for you to present an uncontroversial reliably sourced explanation of what constitutes foundation date of government institutions. Otherwise we will just keep disagreeing what foundation date means and that will not help us further.
PS power and tonnage are not to be confused. Very large oil tankers have a tonnage of about 300,000 tonnes. Three times as much as USS Nimitz (CVN-68) class supercarriers of the US navy. In naval power I would rank a single super carrier (although 3 times less tonnes) above an oil tanker though. Your outright removal of Stockwin is therefore in part based on your (unsourced) assumption that tonnage equals power. (One reason why the Dutch and English navies were so much more powerful than French and Spanish navies is because of tactics and superior quality relatively small ships). You are putting a lot of implicit personal opinion and original research into your evaluation of what is going on here - and that is problematic. Arnoutf (talk) 08:44, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
Sources from Leiden University [5] and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences [6] on how the admiralty of Maximilian evolved into the admiralties of the republic. Arnoutf (talk) 08:57, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
Regarding my comments on distinct historical breaks, I was merely commenting on your conclusions. If what you say is correct regarding the difference between the navy of the Dutch Republic and that of the Batavian Republic, the difference is obvious. But the issue is somewhat moot since there are no supporting sources. We currently have two views on the subject that are attested by sources: one is the Navy's own view (8 January 1488), the other that of at least two established naval historians (c. 1581). I actually agree on you that history shouldn't be simplified. That's exactly why I oppose setting any providing any definite infobox date in cases like this, and especially not the extremely specific date given by the Navy.
My removal of Stockwin is because he's a writer of popular fiction, not an historian or an established expert. And the link was dead to boot. Glete was really just an illustration of how problematic the statement is overall, and he's actually considered a major authority on the subject of early modern state navies. Consider that Stockwin is a essentially useless as a source, I don't see how any of this is my original research. If you want to defend exceptional statements, cite exceptional sources.
Regarding the sources you presented, the website at Leiden University[7] is a short summary of the history of the "Admiral of the sea or the admiral-general of the Netherlands". The second source[8] is about the Admiralty of Amsterdam. I don't see any statements on the foundation of a Dutch navy at all.
Peter Isotalo 21:10, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
The Leiden / KNAW sources report how the admiral general (Maximilian) evolved into the Admiralty of Amsterdam and the foundation of the other five admiralties. These institutions constituted the Dutch navy and were merged under a single command between 1795-1810. The 1813 restoration continued from the single command. So it was a continuous evolution starting in 1488.
Whether the 1488 foundation date is indeed that of the modern Dutch navy can be indeed debated. However, that brings me back to my earlier point - who decides what foundation date an institution can adopt? You appear of the opinion that the most recent reform should be counted, but apparently the Netherlands navy (and others like the UK navies) take the position their oldest predecessor can count. I am not sure there is a single answer to that.
Perhaps the solution may be something like multiple foundation dates (1488 statute of admiralty for habsburg netherlans 1597 admiralties of the united Netherlands 1813 restoration of navy by William I) or something similar. Not unlike we have in many country articles. Arnoutf (talk) 21:36, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
The Amsterdam admiralty was one of five admiralties in the Dutch Republican navy, and there were also armed merchants, privateers and private convoy activity. And I don't see any claims about any "continuous evolution" in either source. If I've missed something because my Dutch is bad, please specify the relevant passages.
And I am of the opinion that the most recent history should be counted, yes. But I haven't consulted any administrative history of the Dutch states that followed the Dutch Republic, so I haven't replace the 1488 date with anything. I haven't inserted any unreferenced views in the article, but I have presented the view of both the navy and some prolific modern naval historians. If there is no one certain foundation date then I don't really see the point of having it in the infobox. It's just not the appropriate place for presenting ambiguities of that type.
If you really want a specific, precise date of birth, you need to consult an institutional history. But I suspect that historians today are far less prone to setting these kind of precise founding dates for pre-modern institutions of any kind. But it's exactly the kind of thing that institutions themselves love doing; it confirms their existence with a precise "birthday"; it removes all those pesky nuances and ambiguities; and it makes it so much easier to conduct celebratory ceremonies, like a Vlootverjaardag on 8 January. That has more to do with the modern institutions themselves than actual history, though.
Peter Isotalo 17:57, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
Mmm perhaps you are right that we can better solve this in the history section of the article instead of the infobox, as getting all these nuances into the infobox is going to be as good as impossible. I will not object removal of 1488 from infobox as the history section mentions it in more context. Arnoutf (talk) 19:52, 13 January 2015 (UTC)