A Royal Netherlands Navy fantasy

Two times in the twentieth century the Dutch were close to build large naval units, battleships or very large cruisers, battlecruiser. In both cases much time was spent in debate and research if the Netherlands, and her overseas empire at that time, needed this type of expensive ships and in what configuration. The closest the Netherlands came with building battleships, was with the battleship plan of 1913. However the difference in size between the existing type of ships the Royal Netherlands Navy had and the new battleships was large. The new battleships would at least be four times larger than the largest existing ship of that time, the 6530 ton Zevenprovincien.

The threshold of the existing ships to these new behemoths was large, may be too large.

Suppose this threshold was lower.

Suppose the Royal Netherlands Navy jumped on the wagon of real armoured cruisers at the end of the 19th century, instead of smaller coastal defence ships, and so gradually, via several pre-dreadnoughts classes ending with a fleet inbeing of real battleships.

The early steps with modern armoured navy ships were made with the armoured sloop Sorabaja followed in 1892 with Princes Wilhelmina. Both ships were slow and could not really classified as cruisers.

In 1894 the first Sino-Japanese war broke out and the Empire of Japan soundly defeated, with her ironclads, the Imperial Chinese navy, mostly iron clads to. After the conflict Japan started to enlarge her fleet by purchasing at several European nations protected cruisers, armoured cruisers and even battleships at the end of the century.

This was followed by the Spanish. American war of 1898 and the conquest of the Philippines by the USA. A conflict which also caused some worries by some politicians and colonials. Protected cruisers played a significant role in this conflict too.

These developments worried several politicians, navy men and colonial entrepreneurs.

The first steps to modernise the Dutch Royal Navy in earnest was the proposal of the Evertsen class. However a member of parliament mentioned the rather small size, slow speed and the ship was under gunned compared with even older designs of other navies. The plan was rejected and funds for three large ships, real armoured cruisers, were made available by parliament.

The three armoured cruisers of the Evertsen class were laid down In 1894 and commissioned between 1895 and 1896.




Characteristics:

Everstens class TTLEversten class OTL
Displacement6,840 tons3,464 tons
Length108.8 m (356 ft 11 in)86.2 m (282 ft 10 in)
Beam18.9 m (62 ft 0 in)14.33 m (47 ft 0 in)
Draught7.32 m (24 ft 0 in)5.23 m (17 ft 2 in)
Propulsion13,000–13,500 ihp two shafts4,700 hp (3,500 kW), two shafts
Speed20 knots (37 km/h16 knots (30 km/h)
Complement530263
Armament4 × 8.2 in (21 cm) (2 × 2)2 × 8.2 in (21 cm) (1 × 2)
1 × 8.2 in (21 cm) (1 × 1)
8 × 15 cm (5.9 in) single2 × 15 cm (5.9 in) (2 × 1)
8 × 7.5 cm (3.0 in) (6 × 1)6 × 7.5 cm (3.0 in) (6 × 1)
8 × 1-pounder (8 × 1)8 × 1-pounder (8 × 1)
3 × 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes3 × 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes
Armour6 in (15 cm) belt6 in (15 cm) belt
9.5 in (24 cm) barbette9.5 in (24 cm) barbette


These were followed a year later by the protected cruisers of the Holland class.

The first group of three were laid down in 1895 and the second group of three ships were laid down in 1898.. These were based on the British Apollo class cruisers. The speed was 20knots and they had an armament of two singe 150 mm main guns, six 120 mm guns and four 75 mm guns with a complement of 343 men.

In 1896 it seemed Japan adopted a large building program called the Six, Six plan. Initially incorrect interpreted that it comprised six battleships. Although the Empire of Japan did not pose a threat to the Dutch East Indies, the fact that it was an allied with Great Brittian made the Dutch Royal Navy Admirals and the Colonial government uneasy.

As a reaction to this Japanese naval plan, the initial plan to build second class of three armoured cruisers evolved in a Dutch version of a Six, Six naval plan. Or as the press called it a six,six,six navy. Six protected cruisers, Six armoured cruisers and Six battleships and a array of torpedo boats.

The press jumped on it an a lively public debate evolve, ending in the fleet law of 1898. Whitin six year three armoured cruisers would be build and six real battleships.

Already in 1898 the first two armoured cruisers were laid down followed half a year later with the third and the first class of two battleships.

The new class or armoured cruisers were the “Koninging Regentes class”. The class was essential an improved and slightly larger class of ships as the Evertsen class. Main difference was the main armament, this were German Krupp 24 cm SK/L40 guns in two twin turrets. The 15cm guns were as well from Krupp. The steel and armour were as well imported form Germany like their predecessors. A novelty was the use of Krupp armour instead of the British Harvey armour. All three ships were in commission in 1901.

Kon.Regentes class TTLKon.Regentes class OTL
Displacement9540 tons5002 tons
Length134 m (442 ft)96.622 m (317 ft 0 in)
Beam20 m (66 ft)15.189 m (49 ft 10 in)
Draught7.32 m (24 ft 0 in)5.817 m (19 ft 1 in)
Propulsion18000 ihp two shafts6,500 hp (4,800 kW), two shafts
Speed21 knots (39 km/h16.5 knots (30.6 km/h)
Complement630340
Armament4 × 9.4 in (24 cm) (2 × 2)9.4 in (24 cm) (2 × 1)
10 × 15 cm (5.9 in) single4 × 15 cm (5.9 in) (4 × 1)
10 × 7.5 cm (3.0 in) (6 × 1)8 × 7.5 cm (3.0 in) (6 × 1)
8 × 1-pounder (8 × 1)4 × 1-pounder (4 × 1)
3 × 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes3 × 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes
Armour6 in (15 cm) belt6 in (15 cm) belt
9.5 in (24 cm) barbette10 in (25 cm) barbette
10 in (25 cm) turret10 in (25 cm) turret


In 1899 the keel was laid down for the first two real battleships. The HNLMS “Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp” and the “Tjerk Hiddes de Vries” Although experience was gained with the construction of the protected cruisers and the armoured cruisers for the battleships, assistance was purchased from the British. The design of the two battleships was heavily influenced by the Majestic and Canopus class battleships. In Germany the Krupp armour and secondary armament was purchased while the main guns and their turrets were purchased form the United Kingdom

( In OTL a single coastal defence ship was build 110 meter long 5210 tons armed with 2 × 9.4 in (24 cm) (2 × 1), 4 × 15 cm (5.9 in) (4 × 1), 8 × 7.5 cm (3.0 in) (8 × 1) and 4 × 1pdr (4 × 1).

The Battleships of the Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp class had the following characteristics:

Displacement14,300 long tons (14,500 t)
Length421 ft 6 in (128.5 m)
Beam74 ft (22.6 m)
Draught26 ft (7.9 m)
Installed power
Propulsion
Speed18 knots (33 km/h)
Complement682
Armament
Armour
In 1902 the second class of two battleships, the HNLMS ’’Jacob van Heemskerk’’ and “Gerard Callenburgh”” followed, these two ships close resembling the previous Tromp class.

In 1904 the last two of the six battleships were laid down. This would be the HNLMS “De Zeven Provincien’’ and the ‘’Eendracht”. These two ships were considerable larger and with a heavier secondary armament. The main guns were the British BL 12 in (305 mm) 40-caliber Mk IX guns while the secondary guns were four German 24 cm SK L/40 placed in single gun turrets. The tertiary armament were ten German 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/40 in single positions. The ships went in commission between 1906 and 1907.The Battleships of the “De Zeven Provincien” class had the following characteristics:

Displacement15,950 long tons (16,210 t) (normal)
Length456 ft 3 in (139.1 m)
Beam78 ft (23.8 m)
Draught27 ft (8.2 m)
Installed power
  • 20 Stork boilers
  • 16,000 shp (12,000 kW)
Propulsion2 shafts, 2 triple-expansion steam engines
Speed19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)
Range12,000 nmi (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)
Complement864
Armament
Armour
 
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Since the Netherlands didn't engage in any major wars in this period, and there was nothing they could do could make a difference in a great power conflict what difference would it make?
 
Since the Netherlands didn't engage in any major wars in this period, and there was nothing they could do could make a difference in a great power conflict what difference would it make?
No, but given the naval race before the Great War, I think that both England and Germany, will give a lot of thought about those ships. It will make for some complicated diplomatic moves in the run up to the Great War.
 
Since the Netherlands didn't engage in any major wars in this period, and there was nothing they could do could make a difference in a great power conflict what difference would it make?
What they build was a fleet in beiing. The primairy role was to protect the DEI and ensure their neutrality. In stead of building, rather useless coastal defense ships, the Netherlands chose to build real armoured cruisers. An option often taken instead of battleships. When havng armoured cruisers the step to real battleships is smll. Especially when Japan buys a large series of ships in various European nations.
The Dutch build their own ships, only imported the materials.
At the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th century the Dutch politicians did see the ned of a strong defence in order to guaranty neutrality.
 
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The primairy role was to protect the DEI and ensure their neutrality
The problem is how to get the Dutch to not just free ride on RN superiority and pay for something to really defend the DEI themselves? And not just use a fleet of very old cheap obsolete coastal defence ships for keeping control of the colony and suppressing any local indigenous rebellions.....?

The issue is that deep down many probably even if they are not willing to say it publicly for reasons of pride knew that GB would probably not want anybody attacking DEI due to A) it being too close to Malaya/Australia B) Anglo-Dutch Shell oil being 50% GB owned.... ?
 
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The problem is how to get the Dutch to not just free ride on RN superiority and pay for something to really defend the DEI themselves? And not just use a fleet of very old cheap obsolete coastal defence ships for keeping control of the colony and suppressing any local indigenous rebellions.....?

The issue is that deep down many probably even if they are not willing to say it publicly for reasons of pride knew that GB would probably not want anybody attacking DEI due to A) it being too close to Malaya/Australia B) Anglo-Dutch Shell oil being 50% GB owned.... ?
Your geo political view is correct. How ever were still at the start of the 20th century. Great Brittain is allid with Japan more to counter Russia, and Shell is not that great player yet. There more treasures hidden in the DEI, like rubber an Tin
 
Your geo political view is correct. How ever were still at the start of the 20th century. Great Brittain is allid with Japan more to counter Russia, and Shell is not that great player yet. There more treasures hidden in the DEI, like rubber an Tin
Yes but GB had given back DEI after Napoleonic war so as long as the Dutch stayed neutral they would never let Japan (who was very much the junior early on) move south towards Australia or Malaya? And they would never let anybody else take it... so there was simply no real other threat and no Dutch navy could really fight RN so why bother spending money....?
 
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Yes but GB had given back DEI after Napoleonic war so as long as the Dutch stayed neutral they would never let Japan (who was very much the junior early on) move south towards Australia or Malaya? And they would never let anybody else take it... so there was simply no real other threat and no Dutch navy could really fight RN so why both spending money....?
Well, treaties are nice, but you never sure. A fleet in beiing of armoured cruisers shows the world that you take your neutrality serious. At the turn of the century the Spanish Amercan war was quite disturbing, even the USA was regarded a friendly nation.
At the same time,OTL, the Netherlands spending fortunes in constructing fortress in the home land. With the same purpose, to show it would defend its neutrality, even the fortres and waterlines would at the end be no match for Great Power armies
 
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The expansion of the Royal Netherlands Navy was not without controversy. Especially form the Royal Netherlands Indian Army, KNIL, came much critique. After all it was the KNIL who was in almost a constant war in Athjee and was occupied elsewhere on the Indonesian Archipelago in order to maintain Dutch rule. The KNIL and her advocates did not see much use in the armoured cruisers and battleships and this view was gaining more support.

The Russo-Japanese war who started in 1904 and the aggressive and successful actions of the Imperial Japanese Navy against the Imperial Russian navy proved that the supporters of the Dutch Navalism were correct. More after the Battle of the Yellow Sea and the Battle of Tsushima made great impression, and funded the believe that the Empire of Japan could be the main threat to the Dutch East Indies.

The Royal Netherlands Navy had a fine fleet in being, by 1906, consisting of:

Six protected cruisers
  • Holland class
Six armoured cruisers
  • Evertsen class
  • Koninging Regentes class
Six battleships
  • Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp class
  • Jacob van Heemskerk class
  • De Zeven Provincien class

37 torpedoboats in several classes

The fleet could count on some national pride and it certainly was a good ensurance to maintain neutrality. However since the advent of HMS Dreadnought all battleships were obsolete even the HMNLS Eendracht who was commissioned in early 1906. Further more the protected cruisers of the Holland class were almost ten year old and the advent of the torpedo boat destroyer and submarine made the torpedo boats also soon obsolete.

In 1907 funds were made available to replace the armoured sloop Soerabaja and Queen Wilhelmina ( former Princess Wilhelmina) by two scout cruisers and eight destroyers. The scout cruisers followed the design of the British Pathfinder class. They were 3000 tons, with a length of 113 meters and a beam of 12 meters and were armed with 10 x 75 mm and 8 x 47 mm guns and two torpedo tubes and could reach a speed of 25 knots. The were the flotilla leaders of the eight destroyers of the Z1 class. The latter were to replace the oldest torpedo boats.

In 1908 the minister of navy proposed a modernisation program. The program were to replace the Holland class protected cruisers and the armoured cruisers of the Evertsen class by a series of six light cruisers. That were ships larger and heavier armed than the scout cruisers. Further an other class of sixteen destroyers as replacement of three classes of old torpedo boats. Six submarines for the home waters and six submarines for the Indies. And as most controversial point was to order four new battleships, that is dreadnought type of battleships.
 
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The controversy and debate for the purchase of four additional Battleships continued until the spring of 1911. After two state committees and much debate in several Cabinets and Parliament the order was given for four new Battleships based on the so called supper dreadnought type. Further six light cruisers would be laid down to replace the Holland class protected cruisers. The Battleships were some how a reaction on the Japanese Battlecruisers of the Kongo class, how ever they were designed with the British BL 13.5-inch (343 mm) Mk V naval gun instead of the 14 inch (356 mm) gun as the Kongo's would installed.
To overcome some how this difference the elevation of the guns was redesigned and increased.
Despite having experience in building battleships and cruisers, the Dutch naval architects of the various ship yards sought assistance of German and British designers. There for several designs were made were heavily based on the foreign shipyards who assisted the Dutch naval architects. At the end there were three designs, clearly showing the influence of respectively Vickers, Blohm und Voss and Germania.
The three armored cruisers of the HMS Evertsen class would be decommissioned as soon as the first two battleships would be finished.
Although many many materials had to be imported from Germany of Great Britain it was decided that the ''Artilerie Inrichtingen'' (AI) the state company who manufactured munution and arms for the Dutch army would be expanded in order to manufacture the main guns and secondary guns of the battleships, cruisers and destroyers. The forgings for the guns however needed to be supplied by the British or German suppliers.
 
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In 1894 the first Sino-Japanese war broke out and the Empire of Japan soundly defeated, with her ironclads, the Imperial Chinese navy, mostly iron clads to. After the conflict Japan started to enlarge her fleet by purchasing at several European nations protected cruisers, armoured cruisers and even battleships at the end of the century.
Regardless of who wins the losers won't have the finances to rebuild their navy. Both of them at the time (though Japan less so) doesn't have that much slack to be able to afford such a setback. Probably better if both sides used their fleets as more of a fleet in being and not actually contributing to pitched battles (so everything short of that), and the war itself settled into a stalemate of sorts, which would prove the usefulness of a battlefleet while not crippling either nation's ability to continue their fleet expansion after the war.
 
No, but given the naval race before the Great War, I think that both England and Germany, will give a lot of thought about those ships. It will make for some complicated diplomatic moves in the run up to the Great War.
Why would they? They're Pre-dreadnoughts that are broadly similar to the London class. And by the outbreak of The Great War, they're hoplessly obsolete thanks to the Dreadnought revolution. Yes they might be 6 rather good pre-dreadnoughts but that's it. Great and powerful ships by 1914 standards they are not.

At best they're coast defence ships, or for plodding around in the DEI to impress the locals, against anything serious, they're not a threat.

If the Dutch can produce a dreadnought or something, I would guess that its largely going to be a singleton or at most, a pair of ships, due to the sheer cost and the lack of yard/slip space. And because of the comparatively shallow seas around Dutch ports, they're going to be 'small' by Dreadnought standards to keep their draft down as it just wouldn't do for the Flagship of the Royal Netherlands Navy to hit a sandbank or mud flat.
 
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Why would they? They're Pre-dreadnoughts that are broadly similar to the London class. And by the outbreak of The Great War, they're hoplessly obsolete thanks to the Dreadnought revolution. Yes they might be 6 rather good pre-dreadnoughts but that's it. Great and powerful ships by 1914 standards they are not.
What the Netherlands can reasonably afford to buy and have good capabilities are copies of the Swedish Coast Defence Ships such as the Sverige class.


1656324386530.png
 
What the Netherlands can reasonably afford to buy and have good capabilities are copies of the Swedish Coast Defence Ships such as the Sverige class.


View attachment 753937

Exactly, the Dutch don't have the yards to build something much bigger really or the industry to support the construction of something like a Dreadnought or Large Armoured Cruiser/Battlecruiser. Building up the infrastructure first to build such a large ship would be a national investment and considering the pacifist elements in the government, you'd have a hell of a time trying to convince them of the need for it.

You'd have to do a lot of work around Rotterdam and the Schelde to let a ship that big get in and out, to be built and maintained.

And the designs are nice, but they're obsolete by the outbreak of the War. If the Dutch were trying to ward off any wayward Imperial Japanese eye with their armoured cruiser. Well there's these

Japanese_battleship_Kongo.jpg


An armoured cruisers not going to beat a Kongo class, or be intimidated by them.
 
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If the Dutch can produce a dreadnought or something, I would guess that its largely going to be a singleton or at most, a pair of ships, due to the sheer cost and the lack of yard/slip space. And because of the comparatively shallow seas around Dutch ports, they're going to be 'small' by Dreadnought standards to keep their draft down as it just wouldn't do for the Flagship of the Royal Netherlands Navy to hit a sandbank or mud flat.
By the turn of the century the Dutch did had shipyards capable of building complex ships as armored cruisers and pre-dreadnought battleships.
The Royal Dutch Navy primary reason of existence was the very large colony of Indonesia, not the North Sea. Further your comment of shallow waters, sandbanks or mud flats is nonsense and probably relate to the 17th and 18th century when indeed the Dutch navy could not build 1st rate ship of line at the same size as the British did due to the shallow waters. However were at the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century. Steam driven dredging vessels cleared the entrance of Dutch ports like Rotterdam which at this time exploded in size.
The size of a superdreadnought is comparable with the ocean liners from Rotterdam to New York or the Liners form the Netherlands to Indonesia,.
Further battleships did indeed cost a fortune, but apparently the Dutch government was willing to pay for it in 1914. And considering if the country can afford or not these investments shows the naval races between Chili, Argentina or Brazil. It is not a matter of affordable or not but willing to pay for it, not much difference as in our present time.
 
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Exactly, the Dutch don't have the yards to build something much bigger really or the industry to support the construction of something like a Dreadnought or Large Armoured Cruiser/Battlecruiser. Building up the infrastructure first to build such a large ship would be a national investment and considering the pacifist elements in the government, you'd have a hell of a time trying to convince them of the need for it.

You'd have to do a lot of work around Rotterdam and the Schelde to let a ship that big get in and out, to be built and maintained.

And the designs are nice, but they're obsolete by the outbreak of the War. If the Dutch were trying to ward off any wayward Imperial Japanese eye with their armoured cruiser. Well there's these

Japanese_battleship_Kongo.jpg


An armoured cruisers not going to beat a Kongo class, or be intimidated by them.

1)
The Dutch government decide to build real armoured cruisers instead of the slower and smaller Evertsen class as in OTL. In OTL this was a class with similar armament as the armored cruisers of that time only with limited numbers and on a smaller hull, which affect the speed.
2)
In OTL all ships from the 1890ties were build on Dutch shipyards, yes armament and steel had to be imported.
3)
The industrial base of Japan at 1900 did not hold the Japanese back to purchase a large number of protected cruisers, armoured cruisers and even battleships. The industrial base of the Netherlands is large enough to build and maintain this kind of ships.
4)
Yes the pre-dreadnought of the 1900 's are obsolete by 1914 but this did not stop navies all around the globe to use them, even it was not as 1st class battleships.
5)
In TTL the Dutch decide to expand their navy with four real super dreadnought as they were planning OTL in 1913/1914.
6) I think you over estimate the size of 1900 era battleships or 1914 era battleships. They were among the largest ships of that time but not larger than Ocean liners
 
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The thing is, I think this would be a waste of money for the Dutch. A group of 6 pre-dreadnoughts and a collection of ACR's isn't going to really defend the DEI. I doubt there's the facilities out there to maintain them, as they'd need to be built or a drydock made there or towed to the region. They're basically useless defending Holland itself outside of sitting near the major ports and operating with coast defence batteries.

In the WW1 era, the biggest defence for the DEI is distance. Its far enough away from Japan to basically be very difficult to do anything about if they did suddenly go "Nice colony...shame if anything were to happen to it...."

The Germans don't have anything in the Region and the UK is happy with Australia and Singapore.

So if they build a group of 6 Pre-dreadnoughts, they're obsolete from 1906 onwards and the Japanese, if they were able to deploy their fleet to attack it have a considerably larger force, of 9 of their own Pre-dreadnought and semi-dreadnought class ships, not counting those they captured off the Russians.

What's needed is cruisers, battleships look good but they're of limited use and will be obsolete fast. Built light cruisers, go to the Brits, build something akin to the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Glasgow_(1909) and her sub type, or Town class cruisers like the Southampton class - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town-class_cruiser_(1910)

This means you don't have to massively expand any shipyards and dock facilities, and have ships that are eminently more useful. Sure build a CA as a flagship or something, but punt out say 12 light cruisers and some modern destroyers and you'd have a far more effective force.

I just spotted the 4 Dreadnought plan, again these are hugely expensive ships, and if they're for patrol duty in the DEI, then you need the facilities there to be expanded to take them and repair/maintain them. This means you need a large, modern drydock or floating dock out there and that's a major expense. In home waters they would probably be of little use, becuase if they went to war with the UK or Germany, then they're hillariously out numbered, and in the Far East, there's going to be 4 x Super Dreadnoughts, 4 Battlecruisers and a collection of semi-Dreadnoughts and other ships out there in Japanese hands soon enough. So even then, if you built all four, they're going to be outnumbered.

and you've said yourself, the guns are going to come from the UK or Germany. WW1 ensures those guns will not be delivered. So these ships will be delayed, badly. And probably not even getting completed until post WW1 at which point the Washington Naval Treaty comes along and goes "NO." As the Dutch would be ranked lower than the French or Italians. And the ship design could well be obsolete or need immediate re-working.
 
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