Minelayer Nautilus

Design history
The military strategy of the Netherlands primarily focused on operations on land, and the role of the Royal Netherlands Navy was limited to defence of coastal waters. The naval strategy was centered around defence of essential ports, estuaries and coastal areas. Defensive minefields played an important part in this defensive strategy. For this, the Royal Netherlands Navy built a number of classes, starting with the Hydra-class, followed by the Douwe Auke-class and Nautilus.

This minelayer was built as a dual-purpose ship. Her primary task was minelaying of in coastal waters in cooperation with other minelayers, under the protection of coastal batteries and gunboats against enemy surface warships and submarines. For her primary role, deck space for a fixed number of mines and low speed sufficed. Her armament was however rather weak and did not suffice to protect the ship against aircraft. She could also double as a fishery inspection ship, enforcing rules and regulations in open sea. This second role required seaworthiness.

A drawback of her design was that (in contrast with earlier classes) the Nautilus did not have an enclosed mine deck below the main deck. Her mines were stored on the main deck, where they were exposed to the sea and weather conditions.

Nautilus in 1930

Construction details [1]
Name Nautilus
Dockyard Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij, Rotterdam
Dockyard No 158 [2]
Laid down January 25, 1929 [3]
Launched October 30, 1929
Commissioned May 2, 1930
Pennant M.12 (WW II)
[1]: Information taken from [GB110] unless noted otherwise. Confirmed by other sources unless noted otherwise.
[2]: From [RDM].
[3]: From [SMT]. [GB110] says January 25, 1928. I am going with [SMT].

Specifications [1]
Displacement 800 tons (standard)
1056 tons (full load) [2]
Crew 57
Dimensions 58,50 (o.a.) x 9,50 x 4,15 m
Armament [3] 2 x 75 mm No. 2 (2x1) [4]
4 x .50 (12.7-mm) Vickers machineguns (2x2)
2 x .30 (7.62-mm) Lewis machinegun (1x2)[5]
Mines 40 [6]
Anti-submarine [7] Asdic
2 depthchargethowers
25 depthcharges
[1]: From [GB110] unless otherwise noted.
[2]: Full load displacement from [RDM].
[3]: From [GB110] unless otherwise noted. [MB36] mentions in addition 1 x 37 mm. [CAG], [VML] also mention 2 x 40 mm No.1 and no .50 MG. I presume these guns were removed prior to May, 1940 (armament could change quite a bit over the years).
[4]: Type from [CAG]. According to [MB36], these were 75 mm No.3. One 75 mm was replaced by British 76 mm with anti-aircraft capability in January, 1941 [GB110].
[5]: Added in January, 1941. This twin .30 Lewis was in turn replaced by (multiple?) Lewis .303 machineguns in April, 1941 [GB110].
[6]: Presumably Model 1921, since this was the type she laid during 1939-1940 [BOS1]. During her stint with the Royal Navy at Hartlepool, she carried Vickers H2 Mk2. [GB110].
[7]: From [GB110]. Added during refit March - April, 1941. Before that, Nautilus did not carry any type of anti-submarine weapons.

Propulsion details
Boilers 2 Yarrow [1]
Machinery 2 x triple expansion engines
Performance 1350 ihp [2]
Shafts 2 [3]
Bunkerage 138 tons oil [4]
Maximum speed 14 knots
[1]: [CON] says 3 boilers.
[2]: This was effectively 1260 shp according to [RDM].
[3]: According to [CAG], [MB36] one shaft.
[4]: From [CON]. I haven't been able to cross-check this.

History [1]
Visited Jan Mayen island on July 24/25, 1930 to commemorate the Dutch sailors who were died there in 1634. Visited Aberdeen (Scotland), Newcastle (UK) and Raykjavik (Iceland) September 2 - 17, 1931
Fishery research between Faroe Islands and Iceland, fishery research May 19 - June 24, 1936, and again May 10 - June 15, 1937.
Visited Hamburg (Germany) between October 15 - 19, 1937.
Escorted escorted Dutch merchants through Gibraltar Strait during the Spanish civil war, August 1937, March - June, 1938.
Involved in laying defensive minefields in Dutch coastal waters September 1939 - May, 1940.
Evacuated from Den Helder on May 14, 1940 with minelayers Jan van Brakel, Douwe Aukes, Medusa and gunboat Johan Maurits van Nassau. Johan Maurits van Nassau was sunk by air attacks from German bombers. Nautilus picked up survivors.
Visited by Queen Wilhelmina on May 18, 1940.
Assigned to lay closing minefield at Hartlepool June - August, 1940. Transit with convoy FN-187 with Jan van Brakel (Southend - Tyne June 3-5, 1940). [2]
Assigned to Thames Local Defence Flotilla. Boom defence at Sheerness from mid-september, 1940.
Assigned convoy escort duties starting February, 1941. Refitted at Hull March - April, 1941.
Start escort duties in Humber estuary in April, 1941
Sunk after collision with the British merchant ship Murrayfield on May 22, 1941 at 00.23 hours near Saltfleet in position 53.35'.59'' North - 00.25'.28'' East while escorting the steamers Murrayfield and Hekla. The entire crew was rescued.
[1]: From [GB110] unless noted otherwise.
[2]: From [NHS].

Sources
BOS1 Ph.M. Bosscher "De Koninklijke Marine in de Tweede Wereldoorlog", volume 1, published 1984.
CAG M.A. Cageling "Onze strijdmacht ter zee, published 1938.
CON "Conway's All the World's fighting ships 1922 - 1946", Conway Maritime Press, published 1997.
GB110 GB110 (Mededelingen van de Marinestaf), volume 3, chapter 18: "De bewegingen en acties van Hr.Ms. Nautilus, Hr.Ms. Medusa, Hr.Ms. Van Meerlant, Hr.Ms. Douwe Aukes, F.S. Bouclier, Hr.Ms. Campbeltown, F.S. Notre Dame de France, F.S. Jean Frederic, Hr.Ms. Gruno."
MB36 Departement van Defensie, "Jaarboek van de Koninklijke Marine 1936-1937", published 1938.
NHS Naval-history.net - Naval events June, 1940.
RDM RDM "Een halve eeuw "Droogdok" 1902-1952", published 1952.
SMT Shipmotions.nl - history of dockyard #158: Nautilus.
VML A.J. Vermeulen "De schepen van de Koninklijke Marine en die der gouvernementsmarine 1862-1962", published 1962.

July 31, 2014 Updated page (all sections)

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