Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Royal Netherlands Navy could have had Thornycroft built Weapon-class destroyers in 1945-1946

In his letter dated 18 October 1945 informed the Dutch naval liaison officer at London, United Kingdom the Dutch minister of Navy that he was visited by major R.R. Seward who was an official representative of the British firm John I. Thornycroft&Co. Ltd. Seward informed him that the firm had 6 Weapon-class destroyers under construction for the British Royal Navy of which two were cancelled by the British Royal Navy.(1) The British |Admiralty however suggested the firm to approach the Royal Netherlands Navy if this navy interested in acquiring such destroyers. If so was the firm willing to act as intermediary with the British Admiralty for transferred those destroyers whose construction had progressed the farthest. The right procedure was that the firm contacted the Admiralty and not the Royal Netherlands Navy. The firm also did not contact other countries but would wait for a response within 3-4 weeks.

The Weapon-class destroyers had a displacement of around 1.950/2.000 (standard)-2.800 (full load) tons and as dimensions 350.0 (waterline)-365.0 (over all) x 38 x 20.9 (depth) feet. Oil fuel bunker capacity 690 tons. Horsepower 40.000 shp. The armament consisted of 3x2-4” Mk XVI guns, 2-4cm Bofors, 2x2-Oerlikons, 2x4-21” torpedo tubes, 2 depth charge throwers and 2 depth charge rails.

At that moment were 6 destroyers under construction of which 2 in a less advanced state in the meantime were cancelled by the British Admiralty. Of the remaining four were the dates

No. 1 to be launched in December 1945 and completed in June 1946.
No. 2 to be launched in May 1946 and completed in December 1946
No. 3 to be launched in September 1946 and completed in April 1947
No. 4 to be launched in February 1947 and completed in October 1947

The Dutch Minister however rejected the proposals and that if the Royal Netherlands Navy wanted to buy destroyers she only would deliberate with the British Admiralty and not otherwise. In the next months however tried the Netherlands to acquire 4 Battle-class (2) destroyers but refused for unknown reasons the offer for such destroyers and was again interested in Weapon-class destroyers for which these reasons did not apply. On 28 June 1946 asked the Minister the Dutch naval commander at London to inform if the Weapon-class destroyers were still available. On 23rd July informed the Military Branch the Dutch naval liaison officer captain lieutenant Krediet that there were none Weapon-class viable and that the cancelled ships were broken up. The Military Branch however had no doubts that Thornycroft would be interested in building two new ones. This was the only possibility to obtain Weapon-class destroyers.

1. Preceded by the C-class and preceded by the Battle-class of which 20 were planned, 16 cancelled and just 4 completed. Thornycroft built the Crossbow, Culverin, Howitzer and Longbow instead of six as mentioned in the correspondence. The Crossbow was laid down on 26 August 1944, launched on 20 December 1945, commissioned on 4 March 1948 and broken up in 1972. The Culvern was laid down on 27 April 1944, launched in March 1946 but broken up the same year. The Howitzer laid down on 26 February 1945 and the Longbow on 11 April 1945 were never launched and commissioned but cancelled on 15 October 1945 and broken up still on slip.
2. Preceded by the Weapon-class and succeeded by the Daring-class of which 26 were completed, originally ordered under the 1942 naval estimates and another two slightly enlarged groups under the 1943 and 1944 estimates of which the most were cancelled while the Second World War came to an end. Destroyers of this kind served in the British Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Imperial Iranian Navy and the Pakistan Navy.

National Archive at The Hague, Netherlands. Ministerie van Marine. Commandant Marine London 1945-1947 inventory number 10.