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De Ruyter Class Light Cruiser

De Ruyter 1936 - with the original funnel cap
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ShipBuilderLaid DownLaunchedCompletedFate
De RuyterWilton-Fijenoord16 Sep 33 11 May 353 Oct 36Lost 28 Feb 1942
Displacement: 6,442 tons/6,545 tonnes (standard); 7,548 tons/7,668 tonnes (full load).
Length: 560ft 7in/170.92m (oa); 551ft 2in/168.04m (wl). Beam: 51ft 6in/15.7m; Draught: 16ft 9in/5.11m (mean).
Machinery: 2-shaft Parsons geared turbines; 6 Yarrow boilers.
Performance: 66,000shp=32kts; Bunkerage: 1,300 tons oil fuel.
Range: 6,800nm at 12kts.
Protection: 50mm main belt; 30mm fore & aft machinery & magazines; 30mm barbettes, turrets & deck.
Guns: seven 5.9in (3x2, 1x1); ten 40mm (5x2); eight .5in MGs.
Torpedoes: nil.
Aircraft: two, one catapult.
Complement: 435.

After the cancellation of Celebes several construction plans for a fleet to defend the East Indies had been proposed, which included between two and four cruisers together with the requisite destroyers and submarines, but none met with unanimous acceptance, either within the service or without. By 1930, however, the decision had been taken to build a third ship, but financial constraints led to its design being scaled down. In consequence, a displacement of 5,250 tons was proposed, and an armament of six 6in in three twin turrets, one forward, two aft, with protection and endurance similar to those of the Java. There was considerable opposition to the adoption of such a weak design, but it was not until 1932 that conditions allowed a seventh 6in gun to be added and the displacement increased. The use of electric welding and some light alloy provided some weight economy in the design of the hull, which was subdivided into 21 watertight compartments. Because the construction of this ship presented some problems to the yard, she was built in a dry dock.

The final design had a protective scheme which included a 50mm waterline belt that extended from forward to after magazines, reduced in thickness aft of this to 30mm. This belt was 405ft long and 12ft deep. The main deck was 30mm, as were the main turrets, end bulkheads conning tower and barbettes.

Unlike the earlier cruisers, this ship was given only a two-shaft machinery installation. The boilers were paired in three separate spaces, of which the foremost were of slightly lower capacity (twelve burners in lieu of eighteen), and were constructed by the builders and De Schelde. The Parsons turbines, constructed by De Schelde developed 66,000shp for a designed maximum speed of 32kts. They were fitted with cruising stages which gave the ship a speed of 17kts at 3,300shp. The foremost turbine space powered the port shaft, and was separated from the after turbine space by the gearing room; 33kts could be attained by a 15 per cent overload.

The 5.9in guns, constructed by Wilton-Fijenoord, were carried in Mk 9 twin and Mk 10 single mountings, with 60° elevation. Unlike that of the earlier ships, all of the main armament was shipped on the centreline. The single mounting was also used as a starshell gun. No heavy AA armament was fitted, only light AA, but these were 40mm Mk III Bofors in five twin stabilised mountings with advanced fire control. Although this outfit was much in advance of any contemporary, it was open to criticism because all five mountings were grouped in close proximity and could have been disabled by a single hit. Moreover, this also restricted their arcs of fire. Only four pairs of .5in MGs in the bridge wings and on the top of the control tower gave any defence against head-on attack. No torpedo armament was fitted, but the ship did receive a catapult of Heinkel pattern and could accommodate two Fokker C.XIW floatplanes.

The original funnel cap proved unsatisfactory and was replaced by a new pattern in May 1936. No further alterations appear to have been made.

De Ruyter with the modified funnel cap
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De Ruyter
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De Ruyter
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De Ruyter
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De Ruyter, good view of the aft 5.9in guns
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De Ruyter from September 1939 carried out operations mainly in the western waters of the East Indies archipelago. Turbine repairs were carried out at Soerabaya in January and February 1940, and after the German invasion of the Netherlands she carried out patrols against Axis merchantmen attempting to escape to Germany.

De Ruyter - East Indies 1940
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When Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in December 1941 she carried out patrols to prevent Japanese cruisers entering the Indian Ocean, and then operated in the East Indies as cover for British convoys to Singapore. On 3 February 1942 she became flagship of the newly formed Allied Striking Force, with which Admiral Doorman attempted unsuccessfully to thwart Japanese landings in the East Indies theatre.

De Ruyter firing her forward guns- date unknown
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On 26 February 1942 she sailed with this force to attack Japanese transports reported off Balwean Island and, in the Battle of the Java Sea which followed, the Allied cruisers and destroyers were decimated by Japanese cruisers and destroyers. De Ruyter was hit and sunk by torpedoes from the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro a little before midnight on 27 February 1942.

the Japanese cruiser Haguro which torpedoed De Ruyter
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photo courtesy of Warship International