Jacob van Heemskerck history

October 31 1938 Jacob van Heemskerck is laid down at the Nederlandse Scheepsbouw Mij in Amsterdam
September 16 1939 Jacob van Heemskerck is launched
May 10 1940 War with Germany breaks out early this morning. The Jacob van Heemskerck is still uncompleted moored at her dockyard, but fortunately has her propulsion system been installed and tested. During the day, as much equipment as possible is brought aboard, including 6 20 mm machineguns. On this day, the ship is prematurely commissioned by her executive officer, Lt Cdr A. van Foreest. Although the ship is still badly undermanned, it leaves Amsterdam early in the evening for England. The ship reaches open sea successfully. During the trip, it meets two British destroyers who are unsure of her identity. Jacob van Heemskerck and the British make contact and the British let the Dutch through.
May 11 1940 Jacob van Heemskerck reaches the Thames.
May 12 1940 Heemskerck leaves the Downs for Portsmouth where she arrives on the 13th
May 14 1940 The original captain, Commander van Holthe resumes command.
May 18 1940 Queen Wilhelmina visits all Dutch naval vessels in Portsmouth
May 25 1940 van Heemskerck leaves for Falmouth to take some early precautions. She has been assigned to take Princess Juliana and her two daughters to Canada, but this will take a lot of efforts, since the ship has no fire control system, no gyro compass and only the 20 mm guns are ready to fire. DCTs with charges are installed on boad ( taken from the old torpedoboats G 13 and G 15 ), while the ship also receives a degaussing cable against magnetic mines. She has only 20 shells per gun for her main battery.
June 2 1940 Jacob van Heemskerck arrives in Milford Haven, where the royal family will board the Dutch cruiser Sumatra. The Heemskerck will only serve as a back up, in case anything happens to the Sumatra during the voyage. Both ships leave in the evening.
June 4 1940 The ships come across a British armed merchant cruiser
June 7/8 1940 Flashes are seen on the horizon, and the Sumatra immediately steers away from the sighting. Jacob van Heemskerck tries to follow, but then water shortcircuits the degaussingcable, causing a small fire. In the confusion, contact was lost with the Sumatra, and van Heemskerck has to make it to Canada on her own.
June 9 1940 Sumatra is sighted in the late afternoon
June 11 1940 The ships arrive in Halifax, Newfoundland
June 25 1940 Jacob van Heemskerck leaves Halifax to return to the UK. During the short period in Halifax, a Sperry-Gyro-Compass has been installed with some other modifications.
July 2 1940 Jacob van Heemskerck reaches Falmouth without much trouble
July 5 1940 Departure for Portsmouth where she will start her refit
July 10 1940 Conversion to an AA-cruiser started on this date. The decision to convert her fell after it was considered impossible to get the missing part of her FCS for the 5.9 inch battery. A British FCS proved impracticle, so she now gets a whole new system. Five double 4 inch Mk 16 mounts are installed in exchange for the three 5.9 inch turrets and the two torpedomounts. She also gets a quad 40 mm, while the Hispano Suiza 20 mm guns stay on board.
July 17 1940 The British premier Winston Churchill visits the ship
January 31 1941 Churchill again visits the ship
February 11 1941 The Heemskerck is commissioned in the presence of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
February 17 1941 Heemskerck leaves Portsmouth to work up in the northern waters. She arrives in Scapa Flow on the 20th, where the crew is trained.
March 29 1941 Heemskerck leaves the Clyde for her first operational assignment. Along with some british destroyers, she is ordered to escort a small convoy to Iceland. She returns to Greenock on April 8. From this date on, she mainly escort Atlantic convoys through the Irish sea, usually without seeing any action. She also escorts a convoy to Iceland on one or two occassions. Sometimes the captain is the Escort Commander.
June 28 1941 van Heemskerck makes contact with a WS-troopconvoy and escorts it to Greenock. Also part of the escort are the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and six destroyers.
July 7 1941 While escorting the liner Avila Star through the Bristol Channel, the latter is attacked by some German bombers. The AA-fire produced was so impressive, that the Germans broke off their attacks.
September 2 1941 Time for some urgent repairs and overhaul in Belfast, at the yard of Harland & Wolf. By this time, she has escorted over 200 ships without any losses. The overhaul takes until early October.
Early October 1941 The Heemskerck is ordered to escort the carrier Indomitable on her trials in the Irish Sea. After this job, she takes on her old job of escorting convoys through the Irish sea.
November 22 1941 The cruiser assists a small coaster in danger of hitting the cliffs south of Belfast. After towing it to open sea, a tug takes over. Heemskerck remains in the vicinity
December 19 1941 The convoy escorted by Jacob van Heemskerck is attacked by a He 115 seaplane. The plane breaks off several attacks after the Heemskerck had opened fire, but she then attacks from a side where there are several merchants in the line of fire of the Heemskerck. The He 115 bombs the large British merchantLucellum with success. The tanker is damaged but can be salvaged.
January 7 1942 Prince Bernhard visits the ship
January 10 1942 van Heemskerck leaves Belfast
January 12 1942 The Heemskerck leaves Bangor for the Netherlands East Indies, which struggles against the Japanes advance since December 1941. The Jacob van Heemskerck becomes part of the escort for WS-15 (25 ships) going southward. She refueles on the Azores and reaches Freetown on January 25. After steaming to Simonstown independently, she remains at the naval dockyard for five days to repair damage caused by a storm enroute.
February 21 1942 The Heemskerck arrives in Colombo via Durban and Mahe (Seychelles), where she refueles . She leaves the port for Trincomalee.
February 25 1942 van Heemskerck departs Trincomalee loaded with 4.7-inch shells for the British destroyers operating in the NEI.
February 28 1942 The cruiser approaches the NEI, but receives telegrams suggestion a fierce battle in the Javasea. During the night, she receives order to change her destination to Tjilatjap on the southcoast of Java. Later that day, the order arrives to turn around and head back for Colombo. The Archipelago is lost.
March 1 1942 While en-route back to Colombo, she is spotted by a Japanese recon plane about 200 miles southwest of Sunda Strait. The plane leaves at about noon and nine enemy bombers arrive shortly after. She underwent several attacks without being hit. After a while, the bombers leave without results.
March 6 1942 Arrival in Colombo just in time. There is only about 3% fuel left in the bunkers.
March 21 1942 Van Heemskerck becomes part of the Eastern Fleet
March 30 1942 Accompanied by the Britsh cruiser Emerald, the carrier Hermes and the Australian destroyer Vampire, she leaves for a rendez-vous south of Ceylon. The next day, they come across the mighty British Eastern Fleet, at that time consisting of five battleships, three carriers, seven cruisers and fifteen destroyers under command of Admiral James Somerville on board HMS Warspite. The fleet is split in Force A and the slower Force B. Jacob van Heemskerck, along with the Dutch Isaac Sweers become part of Force B.
April 5 1942 On this day, dozens of Japanese aircraft attack Colombo, where there is great damage to the wall installations. Two heavy cruisers, HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire are sunk on their way to Addu Atol with heavy loss of life.
April 9 1942 The Japanese fleet attacks Trincomalee, where they sink the carrier Hermes with her escort, the destroyer HMAS Vampire. On the same day, Jacob van Heemskerck becomes part of Force A. The fleet leaves for Bombay where it arrives on the 13th. The Heemskerck was at this time part of the 4th cruiser squadron under Rear-Admiral Tennant ( former captain of HMS Repulse ) together with the cruisers HMS Newcastle ( flagship ), HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise.
April 13 1942 Heemskerck is moored off Bombay until April 19 with Force A. She then steams to Kilindini on the eastcoast of Africa via Colombo, the Maledives, the Lakadives and Seychelles.
April 21 1942 Target practice.
April 30 1942 The fleet arrives at the Seychelles, where the crew finds out the rudder is heavily damaged. The ship departs for Durban shortly after.
May 8 1942 No drydock is available, so the ship has to be repaired in Simonstown. van Heemskerck leaves Durban on this date. During the night, a heavy storm causes considerable damage to whaleboats, machineguns. The captain decides to enter Port Elizabeth.
May 10 1942 In Port Elizabeth for repairs until May 12
May 13 1942 Arrival in Simonstown
Mid May - June 26 1942 Jacob van Heemskerck is moored in Capetown for repairs. When all the work is completed and the news that the ship is leaving soon was announced to the crew, several members tried to desert the ship. Only with force could these be kept on board.
June 27 1942 The ship leaves Cape town with a convoy for Durban. Still there were several crewmembers missing. After arrival in Durban, another convoy is escorted back to Cape town, where 8 the missing men were waiting. Most of the crew was now complete, but this time, the personal aid of the captain managed to leave the ship and desert.
July 4 1942 The ship leaves with a convoy of 7 large ships with war materials for the Middle East. The journey only goes until Kilindini, where the Eastern Fleet ( Force B ) is stationed at that time. The Heemskerck retakes her place in the fleet. After a conference on the 20th on board HMS Warspite, it was decided to send the Heemskerck to Colombo to become part of Force A.
July 19 1942 Arrival in Kilindini
July 30 1942 Arrival in Colombo. Force A takes part in Operation "Stab" from July 29 to August 3. This operation was meant as a diversion for the landings on Gualdalcanal. Three large dummy-convoys with Force A cruise in the Indian Ocean trying to let the Japanese believe landings on Sumatra or surroundings islands are eminent. The idea is to lure forces from the Solomons to Singapore.
August 10 1942 Force A leaves Colombo for Kilindini to excercise with Force B, which takes until early September.
August 16 1942 Commander E.J. van Holthe is promoted to captain
September 6 1942 A fleet consisting of HMS Illustrious, the cruiser HMS Birmingham and Heemskerck and three destroyers ( including the destroyer Van Galen and Tjerk Hiddes ) leave kilindini for an attack on Madagascar (Operation "Stream"). The squadron makes rendez-vous with other warships, after which the attack begins. An ultimatum was sent on the 18th, after which the French quickly surrendered. Heemskerck returned to Kilindini with HMS Warspite and two destroyers for boiler cleaning.
October 11 1942 Heemskerck, Tjerk Hiddes and Van Galen leave Kilindini for Fremantle, were Task Force 71.4 is based. They arrive on the 25th, where they came under command of the US Navy. Several smaller convoys were escorted in late October and early November.
November 28 1942 During a longer convoy trip, which took from late November to early december, the Heemskerck and HMAS Adelaide ( the corvettes Toowoomba and Cessnock were also part of the escort ) spotted an unknown ship on the 28th. The Heemskerck fired a warning salvo, after which the crew of the ship quickly scuttled her. It was the blokkaderunner Ramses (Hapag, 7983 tons), enroute to Bordeaux, France. Ramses tried to pose as the Norwegian merchant Tai Yang, but she misspelled her name and showed the wrong identificationletters. In addition, an officer aboard Adelaide recognized her. The survivors, about 90 men ( including about 10 Norwegian POW's from captured merchants Kattegat and Aust) were picked up by the Adelaide and dropped off in Fremantle. The convoys escorts continued, later with her sistership Tromp.
Mid February 1943 An important convoy, known as operation Pamphlet, is picked upin the Indian Ocean. The convoy consisted of the large liners Queen Mary, Aquitania, Isle de France, Nieuw Amsterdam and the armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda, all carrying parts of an Australian infantry division. It was escorted by two British cruisers, Heemskerck and Tromp, the destroyer Van Galen, with Tjerk Hiddes joining for the last leg of the trip. The whole convoy steamed towards Sydney ( except Nieuw Amsterdam, which was routed to Melbourne ) where it arrived on the 27th. Jacob van Heemskerck remains here for some urgent repairs and modifications, including new 20 mm Oerlikons, an extensified DC-equipment, Asdic, new radarsets etc. The overhaul took until Mid April, when she was routed to Fremantle.
April 30 1943 The captain, captain E.J. van Holthe is relieved by captain W. Harmsen, who had previously commanded the Campbeltown and the unfortunate Isaac Sweers. The first assignment for the new captain is to escort Nieuw Amsterdam to Wellington, New Zealand. The ship returned to Australian for her normal convoy duties. By the end of 1943, the ship is in urgent need of an intensive overhaul in England. She leaves Australia on December 14 for the Mediterranean.
January 6 1944 Arrival in Port Said
January 7 1944 Arrival in La Valetta, Malta.
January 9 1944 Arrival in Algiers.
January 14 1944 Arrival in Gibraltar. Instead of going to Britain, the Admiral Mediterranean fleet signals he is in urgent need of an AA-cruiser. He could use the Heemskerck perfectly for escorting his important troop convoys through the Med, where the Luftwaffe is still playing an active and dangerous role. The Captain is back in the area where he had lost his previous ship, the Isaac Sweers. For the next five months, the ship will be escorting various convoys, mostly from and to Italy, where there is still fierce fighting going on. Until January 16, the ship escorts convoy GUS 27 together with the 37th escortgroup.
April 20 1944 One convoy which was hit badly by the Luftwaffe was UGS 38 (87 ships), which was between Mallorca and Algiers when it was attacked, first by U-969, later by aircraft. Steaming east, a recon plane was spotted just after noon on this day. At about nine in the evening, a warning was received for aircraft activity, and soon after a merchant spotted five planes, flying low over the water were coming in at high speed. Within a minute, several aerial torpedoes were in the water heading for their targets. Unfortunately, one ship, the freighter Paul Hamilton, was loaded with ammo and exploded after a direct hit, killing 580 men(!). Three others were damaged, one of which didn't make it to a friendly port and sank. Jacob van Heemskerck had a very fortunate day, since her asdic reported two incoming torpedoes, which missed with only a short distance to spare. An American destroyer, USS Lansdale (DD-462) was hit by one of them, and she sank after breaking in half.
May 27 1944 Captain W. van den Donker takes over command from Captain W. Harmsen.
June 9 1944 The trip now goes from the Med to Liverpool, where she arrives on June 14th. The ship goes into overhaul at Camell Laird and Company Ltd. in Liverpool for the remainder of the war.
September 15 1944 Commander G.A. Berg takes over command from captain W. van den Donker.
July 16 1945 Trials on the Mersey, which are continued on the 17th.
July 21 1945 The ship completes her refit
July 26 1945 As the first Dutch warship to enter a Dutch port after the war, Heemskerck arrives in Amsterdam.
September 15 1945 The ship leaves with the destroyer Van Galen for the Netherlands East Indies.
April 24 1946 Jacob van Heemskerck sinks the hulk of the former gouvernementssteamer Tydeman during firing practice in Sunda Strait
July 22 1946 Heemskerck leaves the NEI for Holland.
October 1946 Trip to Antwerp, Belgium
June 24 1947 Commissioned as artillery-instruction ship
January 2 1950 Together with the carrier Karel Doorman and the frigate Johan Maurits van Nassau, Heemskerck makes a voyage to the Dutch Antilles. Embarked on the Doorman is Prince Bernhard. The ships return to Holland on 4 May.
May 1950 Excercise "Activity" in the Gulf of Biscay
November 13 1950 Formed a squadron with destroyer Tjerk Hiddes and patrol vessel Marnix. The ships transport Queen Wilhelmina with company to the UK. The squadron was formally disbanded on November 25.
March 12 1951 The ship arrives in Vlissingen to serve as accommodation ship for the local naval commander. From late september 1951, she accommodates sailors during their training.
October 1 1954 The ship is from this date totally immobile.
September 1957 Towed to Schiedam, where the ship accommodated the crew of the carrier Karel Doorman, in overhaul at the time. She remains here until July the next year
November 1959 Accommodationship for the Commander of the Reservefleet
June 23 1963 Arrival in Vlissingen, where she remains as accommodationship
November 20 1969 Decommissioned for the last time, she was stricken on February 27 1970.
February 27 1970 Stricken
June 23 1970 Sold for scrap to Van Castricum & Co, Rotterdam for fl 696.700. Resold to Alicante in July.


K.W.L. Bezemer "Zij vochten op de Zeven Zeeen"
Ph.M. Bosscher "De Koninklijke Marine in de Tweede Wereldoorlog", volume 1-3

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