Sunday, 23 April 2017

Dutch shipyards trying to obtain naval orders from Russia in April-May 1934

Between 8 April-20 May 1934 made Mr. A. Smit a journey to the Russia, Estonia, Latonia and Poland as ordered by three of the Dutch major shipyards including his own yard of the Kon. Mij. De Schelde). The intention was to obtain orders from the navies of these countries.

Smit referred to the efforts Russia did in the 1930’s to obtain plans and technical support for building warships especially submarines. The Kon. Mij. De Schelde was the major builder of submarines in the Netherlands at that time and developed even her own Schelde-Gunning submarine minelayer. Smit contacted the Dutch agent Kaufmann in Moscow to come in contact with the Russian authorities. His efforts seemed to be successful and a meeting for 4 May was arranged. On 3 May however the meeting was cancelled and no new appointment made neither the reasons given why. Smit went towards Estonia and later heard from his agents in Berlin, Germany that the Russians were not united in their naval policy. What became clear that the famous German firm Inkavos (1) was unpopular due to her relation with Krupp. There was still no decision made about the replacement by Inkavos by another firm. Smit wrote that it was even possible that within 6 weeks the negotiations would be restarted while there seemed to be a great interest in the Dutch shipyards. What he didn’t like was his total independence from his agents. In the meantime had Russia hardly a choice believed Smit, or Inkavos or the Dutch yards while a cooperation with a major power was taboo especially for technical support caused by the bad experiences with the British and others.(2) Within some weeks was his agent Kaufmann expected to come to the Netherlands and where he would meet the 3 shipyards and discuss the desired policy.

Despite all efforts there were none submarines in the Netherlands built for Russia.

Archive Kon. Mij. De Schelde 1875-1970 (Municipality Archive Vlissingen, Netherlands) T 214.382.

1. Inkavos or Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw was after the First World War founded to preserve and improve the German submarine knowledge. The firm was housed in the The Hague, Netherlands and designed among other warships submarines for many European navies including Russia! See for instance this note on:
There was a relation between INKAVOS and the NV Nederlandsche Vereenigde Scheepsbouw Bureau Nevesbu  (NVSB), which latter organisation represented the interests of the major Dutch shipyards including Kon. Mij. De Schelde The head of Nevesbu was the naval engineer Gunning, former employee of the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Kon.Mij. De Schelde for which shipyard he designed the Schelde-Gunning submarine minelayer.
2. See for instance J. Rohwer and M.S. Monakov. Stalin’s Ocean-going fleet