Sunday, 23 April 2017

Dutch shipyards trying to obtain orders from Estonia 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.

According Smit’s report asked Estonia the three British shipyards of Vickers, Cammell Laird and J. Samuel White (East Cowes) for tenders for building two submarines, suitable to take a small number with them. The Finnis shipyard Abo supported by Inkavos (1) also sent a tender. There was however no chance for the Finnish yard to obtain the order. In the past suffered the yard with problems with building and even delivered far too late. Further more was Estonia more or less obliged to let the submarines built in England due to earlier contracts.(2) The only thing Smit could do was recommending the Schelde-Gunning submarine minelayer.(3) He succeeded to get chief staff captain Gerret [or Cerret?} interested in this design who advices him to contact J. Samuel White. Gerret assured Smit that if White came with a tender for a Schelde-Gunning submarine especially when she was cheaper the tender certainly would be considered. Building under licence in Estonia was no option as became clear in a discussion with director Maim of the navy yard. The buildings costs were to become to high. Smit got the advice not to contact Vickers while this shipyard was too pigheaded and he got the impression that Vickers was far from popular in Estonia. Estonian navy officers were partly trained in England and future Estonian submarine commanding officers had to serve from some time in the British Royal navy. The Dutch consul Mr. Lukk, former minister of navy in Estonia, had been a great support for Smit and seemed to have still a large influence.

Archive Kon. Mij. De Schelde 1875-1970 (Municipality Archive Vlissingen, Netherlands) Y 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.
2. Vickers-Armstrong built for Estonia the Kalev-class submarines consisting of the Kalev (launched in 1937) and the Lembit (launched in 1936), the latter still existing and which were able to carry 20 mines with them.
3. The Schelde-Gunning submarine minelayer was an own design of the Dutch shipyard Kon. Mij. De Schelde at Vlissingen, Netherlands. The dimensions and displacement could vary. For instance was for Brazil in the same years a submarine of 932 (submerged) tons with a length of 72 metres, a speed of 16-16,5 (surfaced)-9,.25 (submerged) knots and able to carry 36 mines with her advices.