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Royal Netherlands Navy
Naval Jack of the Netherlands.svg
The Navy jack of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Founded January 8, 1488; ago (1488-01-08)
Country  Netherlands
Allegiance HM The King
Type Navy
Size 11000 personnel and 1000 reservists

4 destroyers

2 frigates
4 Offshore patrol vessels

6 minehunters
1 support ship
2 landing platform docks
4 submarines

40 other ships

1 Holland class offshore patrol vessels
undergoing trials
1 Karel Doorman class support ship
under construction, commissioning 2015

8 helicopters and 20 on order/being delivered
Part of Ministry of Defence
Headquarters Den Helder
Engagements Eighty Years' War
Dutch-Portuguese War
Anglo-Dutch Wars
War of Spanish Succession
War of the Quadruple Alliance
World War II
Commander Vice Admiral Matthieu Borsboom
Deputy commander Major-general Rob Verkerk
Michiel de Ruyter, Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp, Jan van Speyk, Karel Doorman
Naval Ensign
Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Naval Jack
Naval Jack of the Netherlands.svg
Aircraft flown
Patrol Lynx

The Koninklijke Marine (Royal Netherlands Navy) is the navy of the Netherlands. During the 17th century the Dutch Navy was the most powerful navy in the world and it played an active role in the wars of the Dutch Republic and later those of the Batavian Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In more recent times the Royal Netherlands Navy has taken part in expeditionary peacekeeping and peace-enforcing operations.


The main naval base is at Den Helder, North Holland. Secondary naval bases are at Amsterdam, Vlissingen, Texel, and Willemstad (Curaçao). Netherlands Marine Corps barracks are in Rotterdam, Doorn, Suffisant on Curaçao, and Savaneta on Aruba.

Service academy

The Royal Netherlands Naval College is the service academy of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Ship prefixes

An international prefix for Dutch navy ships is HNLMS (His/Her Netherlands Majesty’s Ship).[1] HNMS is also used,[2] although this can also refer to Royal Norwegian Navy ships.[3] The Dutch navy itself uses the prefixes Zr. Ms. (Zijner Majesteits, His Majesty's) when a king is on the throne, as at present, and Hr. Ms. (Harer Majesteits, Her Majesty's) when there is a queen.[4]


Dutch Golden Age

The battle of Scheveningen in 1653 during the First Anglo–Dutch War

The Dutch navy has a long history. It was involved in many wars against other European powers since the late 16th century, initially for independence against Spain in European waters, later for shipping lanes, trade and colonies in many parts of the world, notably in four Anglo-Dutch wars against the United Kingdom. During the 17th century the Dutch navy was the most powerful navy in the world.[5] Throughout this period there were, in fact, not one single navy but instead five separate Admiralties (three of them in Holland, and one each in Friesland and Zeeland), each with its own ships, personnel and command structure.

World War II

The HNLMS Java in c. 1941

Elements of the Royal Netherlands Navy on manoeuvres, 1936

During the Second World War, the Dutch navy was based in Allied countries after the Netherlands was conquered by Nazi Germany in a matter of days: the Dutch navy had its headquarters in London, England, and smaller units in Sri Lanka and Western Australia.

Around the world Dutch naval units were responsible for transporting troops, for example during Operation Dynamo in Dunkirk and on D-Day, they escorted convoys and attacked enemy targets. During the war the navy suffered heavy losses, especially in defending the Dutch East Indies, most notably the Battle of the Java Sea in which the commander, Dutchman Karel Doorman, went down with his ships together with 1000 of his crew. One Dutch light cruiser that was under construction was captured in its shipyard by Nazi Germany.

During the relentless Japanese offensive of February through April 1942 in the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch navy in Asia was virtually annihilated, and it sustained losses of a total of 20 ships (including its only two light cruisers) and 2500 sailors killed[6] - as much as the Americans at Pearl Harbor. The Dutch navy had suffered from years of underfunding and came ill-prepared to face an enemy with more and heavier ships with better weapons, including the Long Lance-torpedo, with which the cruiser Haguro downed the light cruiser HNLMS De Ruyter.[7]

A small force of submarines based in Western Australian sank more Japanese ships in the first weeks of the war than the entire British and American navies together, an exploit which earned Admiral Helfrich the nickname "Ship-a-day Helfrich".[8] The aggressive pace of operations against the Japanese was a contributing factor to both the heavy losses sustained and the greater number of successes scored as compared to the British and Americans in the region.

Both British and American forces believed that the Dutch admiral in charge of the joint-Allied force was being far too aggressive. Later in the war, a few Dutch submarines scored some remarkable hits, including one on a Kriegsmarine U-boat in the Mediterranean Sea.

After the war, the relations between the Netherlands and its colonies changed dramatically. The establishment of the Republic of Indonesia, just two days after the Japanese surrender, thwarted the Dutch plans for restoring colonial authority. It took four years of war before the Netherlands acknowledged the independence of Indonesia.

Part of the Dutch Navy was next stationed in Western New Guinea until that, too, was turned over to the Indonesian government in 1962. This followed an invasion by the Military of Indonesia, supported by modern equipment from the Soviet Union, that was nevertheless successfully repulsed by the Dutch navy. This attack took place after the order of President Sukarno to integrate the territory as an Indonesian province.

NATO cooperation

The Standing NRF Maritime Group 1 in 2007 with the HNLMS Evertsen second from the right

With the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the military focus was on the army and air force; it was not until the Korean War (1950 – 53) that the navy got more recognition. The government allowed the creation of a balanced fleet consisting of two naval squadrons. Apart from the aircraft carrier Hr. Ms. Karel Doorman the Dutch navy consisted of two light cruisers (two De Zeven Provinciën'-class), 12 destroyers (four Holland class, eight Friesland class), eight submarines, six frigates (van Speijk class frigates), and a considerable number of minesweepers.

As a member of NATO, the Netherlands developed its security policy in close cooperation with other members. The establishment of the Warsaw pact in 1955 intensified the arms race between West and East. Technical innovations rapidly emerged, the introduction of radar and sonar were followed by nuclear weapon systems and long-range missiles. The geopolitical situation allowed for a fixed military strategy. Beginning in 1965, the Dutch Navy joined certain permanent NATO squadrons like the Standing Naval Force Atlantic.

Current structure

The constituent parts of the Royal Netherlands Navy are:

Naval squadron

Contains all surface combatants, replenishment ships, and amphibious support ships.

Submarine service

Contains the submarines and a support vessel.

Mine Detection and Clearing Service

Contains various minehunters.

Hydrographical Survey

Contains ships which map the oceans.

Naval Air Service

  • Two helicopter squadrons

Netherlands Marine Corps

  • One Brigade (MTC: Mariniers Training Commando (formerly known as GOEM: Groep Operationele Eenheden Mariniers) consisting of four battalions
    • Two Operational Marine Battalions (MARNSBAT1,2)
    • One amphibious combat support battalion (AMFGEVSTBAT)
    • One amphibious logistical battalion (AMFLOGBAT)
  • One rifle company (32nd infantry coy.) is permanently stationed at Aruba

Coast Guard

Although the Coast Guard is not an official part of the Navy, it is under its operational control. Also the Dutch Caribbean Coastguard is under the operational control of the Navy and is commanded by the commander of the Navy in the Caribbean.


The Royal Netherlands Navy currently operates 7 main classes of vessels:

Note: in the Royal Netherlands Navy frigates are interchangeable with destroyers as there is no separate class
Type ship Defensenote 1974 Defensenote 1984 Priority Document 1993 Marine study 2005 Economize 2011
LC frigates 4 4
M frigates four [9] 8 [10] 8 2 2
GW frigates 2 2 2
L frigates 1 [11] 2 2
S frigates 12 10 6
MLM frigates [12] 6
Frigates 25 22 18 6 6
Patrol ships 4 4
Submarine 6 6 4 4 4
Supply ships 2 2 2 1
ATS 1 2 2
JSS 1 1
Minehunters 15 15 15 10 6
Minesweepers 11 11 [13]
Total ships 59 56 40 28 21
LRMP Aircraft 21 13 [14] 13
Helicopters 36 [15] 30 [16] 20 20 20
Total aircraft 57 43 33 20 20

* The Dutch Royal Navy classifies the De Zeven Provinciën as frigates, but internationally they are most comparable to destroyers (due to their size and weapon capability) platform for Sea Based Anti-Ballistics Missile defence

Maritime helicopter

  • 20 NH-90, 12 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) and eight transport version of the NATO Frigate Helicopter (TNFH) (Being delivered NFH-2010 and onward, TNFH-2014 and onward)
File:Royal Netherlands Navy NH-90 NFH.jpg

Royal Netherlands Navy NH-90 NFH at De Kooy Naval Air Station - Den Helder

In 2012 an Apache attack helicopter from the Royal Netherlands Air Force made a deck landing on board HNLMS Rotterdam for the first time as part of an initial study into the possibilities for wider use of the helicopters.

The Dutch amphibious support ship HNLMS Johan de Witt (L801) and the future Karel Doorman JSS are designed to operate Chinook helicopters.

Armored vehicles (Marine Corps)

  • 156 BV206S armored all-terrain personnel carriers(127 will get a Mid-Life Update, the rest will be disposed of or sold)
  • 74 BVS10 armored all-terrain personnel carriers
  • 20 XA-188 wheeled armored personnel carriers(11 to be sold to Estonia, the rest will be disposed of or sold)
  • 4 Leopard 1 BARV beach armored recovery vehicles

Unarmored vehicles (Marine Corps)

Artillery (Marine Corps)

  • RT-120 (Habé Rayé) 120mm mortars
  • L16A2 81mm mortar
  • Brandt MO-60-V - 60mm Commando mortar

Personal weapons

2012 future naval inventory

In 2012 the new fleet plan of the Royal Netherlands Navy will be completed, consisting of these ships:

Class Photo Type Number Dates Details
De Zeven Provinciën HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (F 802).jpg Frigate 4 2002 Mainly Anti-Air Warfare with ABM capability, ASW and with extensive Command & Communication Facilities
Karel Doorman class Hr. Ms. Van Speijk (F828).jpg Frigate 2 1994 8 initially build and operated by the Dutch navy, 2 pairs sold to Belgium Navy, Portuguese Navy and Chilean Navy.
Holland class offshore patrol vessels HNLMS Holland.jpg Offshore Patrol Vessel 4 2011 Ocean patrols
Alkmaar class Hr. Ms. Maassluis.jpg Minehunter 6 1989 Minehunting/Minesweeping (combined), Initial class of 15 ships
Amsterdam class HNLMS Amsterdam A 836.jpg Replenishment 1 1995 Fleet support/replenishing - to be phased out in 2015 after commissioning of the JSS Karel Doorman
Karel Doorman class support ship JLSS Karel doorman.jpg Joint Logistic Support Ship 1 2015 Combined Amphibious Operations/Seabased Helicopter Platform & Fleet Replenishing

Under construction

Rotterdam class Johan de Wit L801.JPG Landing Platform Dock 2 1998/2007 Troop & Equipment Transport, Helicopter Platform with Command & Communication & Hospital Facilities
Walrus class HNLMS Walrus (S802) in 2008.jpg Submarine 4 1994 MultiPurpose Diesel-electric powered hunter-killer submarines for Deep Ocean Operations and Brown Water & Special Force Operations
Cerberus class Rotterdam Havendagen 2009 - A853 Hr Ms Nautilus.jpg Diving Support Vessel 4 1992 MultiPurpose Diving Support Vessels & Harbour Protection
Pelikaan class File:A804 ZrMs Pelikaan.jpg Logistic Support Vessel 1 2006 MultiPurpose Logistic Support Vessel Based in Dutch Caribbean
Mercuur class File:A900 ZrMs Mercuur.jpg Submarine Support Vessel 1 1987 Submarine Support Vessel
Snellius class HNLMS Snellius A802 2863.jpg Hydrographic Survey Vessel 2 2004 MultiPurpose Hydrographic Survey Vessel

The total tonnage will be approx. 140.000 t. Next to these ships a lot of other smaller vessels remain in the navy like the Snellius class hydrographical survey vessels.

With these changes the Royal Netherlands Navy will have 10 large ocean going vessels ranging from medium/low to high combat action ships. The renewed Dutch Navy will be a green-water navy, having enough frigates and auxiliaries to operate far out at sea, while depending on land-based air support and with the large amphibious squadron they will have significant brown-water navy capabilities.

Future changes

  • Extensive upgrading of the 2 remaining F827 Karel Doorman class, new SEWACO systems and lay-out of the ships together with the 2 Belgian Navy sister ships. After these upgrades the ships can last till 2020–2025
  • Purchase New joint support ship Karel Doorman class support ship. The Dutch Ministry of Defence announced recently that this vessel will enter service in 2015 and be able to combine sea-replenishment capabilities with the ability to act as a sea-based platform in support of amphibious operations (incl. CH-47 & AH-64 Helicopters).
  • Extensive upgrading for the Walrus-class submarines including new sonar,new optronic periscope and weapon upgrades for near shore operations.
  • Upgrading the Zeven Provinciën class LCF frigates Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense and considered SLCM integration.
  • Increasing the size of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and further integration with the British Royal Marines.
  • Cooperation and possible integration with German Navy regarding Submarine Planning, Operations, Training and Building Future Replacements, MPA's & Marines.

Theater Ballistic Missile Defense

Together with the United States and several other NATO members, the Dutch Navy is testing and updating its ships for Tactical ballistic missile Defense capability. Although tests conducted concerning the capability of the APAR (Active Phased Array Radar) have been very successful, no decision has been made by the Dutch Government in purchasing SM-3 missiles - mainly because the SM-3 is not operational yet. Four ships are being fitted out for Tactical ballistic Missile Defense. If purchased (after US export approval) the four LCFs will be fitted out with only eight SM-3 missiles each, due to the high costs for each missile (approximately $2.5 - $5 million).


Decommissioned ships

Historic ships

  • O-20

See also


  1. "List of Acronyms Preceding the Name of a Ship". Corporation of Lower St. Lawrence Pilots. Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  2. See for example Paul M. Edwards (2010). Historical Dictionary of the Korean War. p. 114. 
  3. See for example "King Harald V at Washington Navy Yard Marks Historic Alliance". Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  4. "Defensieschepen worden meteen Zr. Ms. in plaats van Hr. Ms." (in Dutch). Volkskrant. 2013-01-29. 
  5. Royal Netherlands Navy Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  6. Klemen, L (1999-2000). "The War at Sea". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
  7. Dr. L. de Jong, 'Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog' (Dutch), 14 parts, part 11a-I-second half, RIOD, Amsterdam, 1975
  8. TIME, Monday, Feb. 23, 1942 (February 23, 1942). "World Battlefronts: Dutchman's Chance". Time.,9171,884450,00.html. 
  9. De M-fregatten werden voor het eerst genoemd bij de Memorie van Toelichting bij de defensiebegroting van 1977.
  10. In de defensienota 1984 ging het om een groter type M-fregat dan in de MVT 1977 nog sprake was.
  11. Het Aangepast Standaardfregat, zoals genoemd in de Defensienota van 1974 was een iets groter schip dan de uiteindelijk gebouwde L-fregatten
  12. Gemoderniseerde Van Speijkklasse
  13. Gepland was tevens de aanschaf van 2 oceaanmijnenvegers, maar een jaar later was dit plan al geschrapt. Gepland was voorts de vervanging van de Dokkumklasse mijnenvegers vanaf 1988, met een nader te bepalen aantal van minimaal 6 en maximaal 15 mijnenvegers.
  14. Aanvankelijk werd de aanschaf van 2 extra Orion P-3 vliegtuigen overwogen, maar een jaar later waren deze plannen al geschrapt.
  15. Er is later zelfs nog aan 40 helikopters gedacht.
  16. Gepland was de aanschaf van 8 grote helikopters, als aanvulling op de 22 (2 waren al verloren gegaan) Lynx helikopters van de MLD.

External links

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