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Koninklijke Marine - The Great War

The naval policy of the country was defined in the explanatory statement on the Naval Estimates for 1874 to be as follows: The naval requirements of the country are

(1) A system of floating defences to supplement the fortifications and coast defences;

(2) An anxiliary squadron in the East Indies, to be used with the Indian navy in the defence of the foreign possessions against attack from without, and to uphold the interests of the country in the Past;

(3) A small squadron in the West Indies for the protestion of the interests of the country there;

(4) A few sea-going vessels to exercise the personnel, to exhibit the Netherlands flag, and to look after its interests.

There were 3 naval directions, the headquarters of which are Koninglijke at Amsterdam, Hellevoetsluis, and Willemsoord. Each of these was under the command of a Rear-Admiral, or Vice-Admiral, who had under him a considerable staff of Naval Officers, Engineers, and officials. At these 3 places were situated the wharves, arsenals, and marine establishments of the uavy. At Willemsoord and Hellevoetsluis ships can only be repaired, equipped, or docked, but at Amsterdam new vessels are built.

The immense navies of modern days, and the enormous cost of their maintenance and renovation, seem to exclude small States from the rank of naval Powers. Holland, with the finest material for manning a navy of any Continental State, can be no exception to the general rule. Her little navy is a model of efficiency, her small cruisers of 5000 tons are not surpassed by any of the same size, and the morale of her officers, one may not doubt, is worthy of the service that produced not only the Ruyters and Tromps of old days, but Suffren, our most able opponent during the long Napoleonic struggle. None the less, the Dutch navy remained a small navy, quite overshadowed by the immense organisations of the age, and without any possible chance of competing with them.

By the time of the Great War, the navy was represented in the Netherlands cabinet by the Minister of Marine. The administration, presided over by the Minister, consists of a chief of the general staff (a captain or rear admiral), a director of naval construction, a director of personnel, a director of pilotage, a director of the hydrographic service, an inspector of pay, provisions, and clothing, and a medical inspector. The naval academy for the education of officers of the executive branch is at Willemsoord; the engineer school is at Hellevetsluis. The fleet is manned partly by voluntary enlistment and partly by conscription. The personnel of the navy was fixed at 11,164 for 1914, but the outbreak of the European War caused this to be increased.

The home dockyards and naval stations were at Amsterdam, Hellevetsluis, Willemsoord, and Fijenoord; in the colonies there are naval stations in Java, Sumatra, Celebes, Borneo, Surinam, and Curacao. The fleet in 1915 consisted of 6 small battleships of 5000 to 6525 tons, 4 coast-defense armor-clads of 2500 to 3500 tons, 2 monitors of 2000 tons, 6 cruisers of 3900 tons, 8 destroyers, 50 torpedo boats, 7 submarines, 3 armed gunboats (antidestroy- ers), 2 mine layers, 1 submarine depot and salvage ship, a large number of gunboats for service at home and in the colonies, and many old vessels used for school ships, training ships, guard ships, etc. The naval budget for 1914 was $9,500,000, and provided for the construction of 2 submarines, a submarine depot and salvage ship, and 8 destroyers. A royal commission, appointed in 1913, recommended the building of the following vessels: 9 dreadnought battleships of 21,000 tons, 6 36-knot destroyers, 8 other destroyers, 44 torpedo boats, and 22 submarines. The project would require a number of years for completion, at an annual cost of about $19,000,000. Two fast cruisers of 6000 tons and 4 submarines of 800 tons were ordered early in 1915.

The Netherlands was able to stay out of the war for the reason that the Central Powers and the Allies both thought it was in their best interest not to force Holland into war.






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Page last modified: 01-12-2011 13:31:12 ZULU