Monday, April 10, 2006

The two Genoese ships in the First Anglo-Dutch War

In 1653, the Dutch took over two ships building for Genoa. One was somewhat larger than the other. The largest ship was named Huis te Zwieten and the smaller ship was named Huis te Kruiningen. In early August 1653, Witte de With made the Huis te Zwieten his flagship and Michiel De Ruyter flew his flag on the Huis te Kruiningen. Neither ship was ready in time for the Battle of Scheveningen, so Witte de With was again in the Vrijheid while Michiel De Ruyter was apparently back in the Witte Lam. After Scheveningen, both ships eventually come into service. Witte de With and De Ruyter used the two ships on the expedition to Norway, where they were to convoy back home a large number of merchant ships and a few East Indiamen. Those ships had taken refuge in Norwegian waters to avoid capture by the blockading English fleet. The two ships managed to survive the great storm that hit the convoying fleet just short of the Texel. One thing that Witte de With and Michiel De Ruyter quickly learned was that the Huis te Zwieten and the Huis te Kruiningen desperately needed girdling, as they could usually not open their lower deck guns, due to lack of displacement and inadequate stability. By July 1654, Witte de With was able to transfer his flag to the Brederode, his perferred ship, while Michiel De Ruyter flew his flag from the Huis te Zwieten. We know the Dutch dimensions for both ships (in Amsterdam feet of 283mm) and their armaments in July 1654:
Ship              Length Beam Hold   Brass Guns               Iron Guns
Huis te Zwieten    146ft 36ft 14ft   10-24pdr,6-12pdr,10-6pdr 16-18pdr,18-12pdr
Huis te Kruiningen 140ft 34ft 13.5ft 6-18pdr,6-12pdr,8-6pdr   drakes 18-18pdr,16-8pdr
The two ships were girdled after the storm in early November 1653. The Huis te Zwieten eventually was given to the VOC, and served in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, in 1665, until she was taken by the English. Frank Fox has said that she was the best Dutch ship taken by the English.

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