Mystery Guest Writer Fun Time!
Our guest writer today has given us some Netherlands love! NL <3 Finally something not a major MAJOR power.
Hr. Ms. De Ruyter, the light cruiser that couldn’t.
The Hr. Ms. De Ruyter, named after a Dutch war hero and admiral, was a unique light cruiser and flagship of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Sadly, unique doesn’t always mean good.
Due to a pacifist movement of the country plus the Great Depression, the government couldn’t really decide on what the ship was going to be and as such the ship got the short end of the stick.
In fact, it wasn’t even designated as a cruiser, just to get around public opinion opposed against making a big warship! She was designated as a flotilla leader.
People called for a typical Washington Navy Treaty type of cruiser, but this was regretfully ignored by the minister.
She ended up with less armor than the aging Java class she was supposed to replace and featured a weird 7 gun setup. 3x2 and 1x1 150mm Bofors cannons for the main battery. The single cannon was added later and wasn’t even in a turret, but enclosed shielding.
She was woefully underarmed compared to similar light cruisers of her time.
What she did feature was an excellent anti-air setup. 5 twin Bofors 40mm anti air cannons on a stabilized mount. This would eventually be copied and improved by the Royal Navy and the United States Navy, ending up as some of the most effective AA guns of the war. On top of that she had 4 twin .50 cal machine gun mounts. Probably the best Anti-Air armed light cruiser of her time.
Her fire control system was also top of the line, providing excellent accuracy to her main battery.
But would that help her?
Sadly, it did not. The fateful battle of Java sea in 1942.
What was left of the ABDACOM (American-British-Dutch-Australian Command, yeah that’s a mouthful) fleet went to battle with a Japanese invasion force.
I’ll just keep this short. Everybody of ABDACOM already accepted this was a hopeless situation and had given up on the Dutch East Indies, except Netherlands itself. It was the only unconquered teritory left of the Dutch Empire. As such, they didn’t want to go down without a fight, as hopeless as the situation was.
The battle ended in disaster for the Allied forces. Outnumbered and outgunned, there wasn’t much they could do against the Japanese fleet.
The Ruyter was hit by one or two torpedoes, causing an explosion in the AA ammo storage, which knocked out her generators. On top of that, the oil spill leak that happened was a result of the torpedo hits was set ablazed by the explosions, causing an inferno.
The fleet managed to delay the invasion force by only one day.
The odd but modern looking for her time 170.92 meter long, 6442 ton cruiser had a short service record. She probably would’ve been a great asset as an escort for the British carriers.
You can’t help but feel bad for her. Poor little De Ruyter…
When Admiral Michiel de Ruyter (her namesake) was sent to the Mediterranean with a woefully underarmed and equipped fleet in 1675, he said “My fleet is too weak for the job, but wherever you send me, I will carry out my duties as is expected of me”. Admiral De Ruyter went down as he expected and nearly two and a half centuries later, she went down under pretty much the same circumstances.