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The Ruyter was laid down on 16 September 1933 at the Wilton Fijenoord dockyard in Schiedam. She was originally designed as a 5000-ton ship with a lighter armament. She was lifted on the 11th of March 1935 and commissioned on 3 October 1936 by Captain A.C. van der Sande Lacoste.

Hr. Ms. De Ruyter under construction.

The warship De Ruyter

The Royal Netherlands Navy light cruiser HNLMS De Ruyter was built at the Wilton-Feijenoord dockyard in Schiedam in the years 1933-1936. She was intended for the defence of the Dutch East Indies, but due to the cost-cutting policy that went into her design, De Ruyter would prove not to be up to the task. Especially the ship's main battery of seven 150 mm guns was considerably underpowered compared to other ships of the time. During World War II, the Netherlands Navy and De Ruyter stood no chance in warding off the Japanese Invasion of the East Indies.


The main armament of De Ruyter existed of seven 150 MM cannons prepared in 3 double towers and 1 single tower, 7x 150 MM, 10x Bofors 40 MM Guns 8x Browning .50 and 12.7 mm Machine-gun's. Two Aircrafts: 2x Fokker C-11W Float planes. In the battle of the Java Sea. De Ruyter was supposedly hit by a single type 93 torpedo at about 23:30 and sank at 02:30 the next day with the loss of 345 men, including admiral Doorman and captain Lacomble.

150mm guns firing.

A port side view of Admiral (Adm) Doorman's flagship, De Ruyter, at anchor shortly before her loss in the Battle of the Java Sea. Note the tall super structure and funnel and the two Fokker C14W aircraft midship. The cruiser is camouflaged in the two tone grey splinter pattern common to Dutch ships, taking part in the defence of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). De Ruyter was lost in the battle with Admiral Doorman and 344 of its crew.

Hr.Ms. De Ruyter

Hr. Ms. De Ruyter (source: Australian War Memorial, ID nr. 305838).

Battle of the Java Sea

The battle of the Java sea (27th-28th February 1942) was an effort of the allied Combined Striking Force to prevent invasion of The Dutch East Indies by the Eastern Invasion Force of Japanese imperial Navy. The allied combined Striking force (ABDA) was under command of the Dutch rear admiral Karel Doorman. The ABDA force consisted of two heavy cruisers (HMS Exeter and USS Houston), three light cruisers (Hr.Ms. De Ruyter (Doorman's flagship), Hr.Ms. Java, HMAS Perth), and nine destroyers (HMS Electra, HMS Encounter, HMS Jupiter, Hr.Ms. Kortenaer, Hr.Ms. Witte de With, USS Alden, USS John D. Edwards, USS John D. Ford, and USS Paul Jones). The battle consisted of a series of attempts by Doorman's Combined Striking Force to reach and attack the invasion convoy; each was rebuffed by the Japanese Naval escort force with heavy losses being inflicted on the Allies.

The battle began ca. 16:00. Although the fleets were equally matched in numbers. The Japanese cruisers had better fire range and armour. In the first phase of the battle, the cruiser Exeter was hit and Hr.Ms. Kortenaer sunk by a torpedo. In the evening at about 21:30. The HMS Jupiter ran onto a mine and sunk. By now Doorman's command was reduced to 4 cruisers.

Hr.Ms. De Ruyter

Japanese forces bomb the Hr.Ms. Java (source: Australian War Memorial, ID nr. 305837).

Sinking of the De Ruyter

At 23:00 they found the Japanese Fleet for the second time. Both columns exchanged fire in the darkness at long range. In this engagement Hr.Ms. De Ruyter and Hr.Ms. Java were sunk by torpedos. Doorman and most of his crew died. The 168 m long ship disappeared into the waves, along with 345 of its men, including the Rear-Admiral. The Japanese invasion fleet was delayed, but not prevented from making a landing on Java. Another 4 allied ships were sunk during the battle, which factually eradicated Dutch presence in South-East Asian waters and marked the end to the Dutch colonial age. The surviving cruisers, Houston and Perth, were sunk on the evening of the same day as they attempted to withdraw to Ceylon.

Hr.Ms. De Ruyter

A Fokker C-11W Floatplane takes off.


On December the first 2002 a group of international divers (searching for the HMS Exeter) found the Ruyter by Side Scan Sonar images. In 2004 she made the news when her shipbells were stolen and posted for sale on the internet. Both bells are now in the possession of the Royal Dutch Navy.

Scheepsbel De Ruyter

The ship's bell is now on display in the Kloosterkerk in the Hague (source: Wikipedia Commons).

De Ruyter Kevin Denlay

The wreck of De Ruyter, as seen from the port navigation bridge deck wing (photo by Kevin Denlay).

De Ruyter


In 2016 it was discovered that the wrecks of De Ruyter and Java, and much of Kortenaer had disappeared from the seabed, although their imprints on the ocean floor remained. During a meeting on 23 November 2016, President Widodo of Indonesia and Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands agreed that the countries would work together to determine what had happened and to preserve their maritime heritage in the future. A three-tracked approach was agreed upon by both governments:

  • Verification of the disappearance;
  • Appreciation of what had happened; and
  • Future cooperation to manage remaining maritime cultural heritage.

For more information on this joint Dutch-Indonesian investigation see:

Location of the wreck site of Hr.Ms. De Ruyter and the Hr.Ms. Java.


Class: De Ruyter Class Cruiser (Light cruiser, Warship)
Built: 1933
Launched: 11 March 1935
Commissioned: 3 October 1936
Displacement: 6,545 tons standard
Length: 170,9 Meters
Width: 15,7 Meters
Drought: 5,1 Meters
Propulsion: 3 Parsons geared steam turbines, 6 Yarrow boilers
66,000 shp
Speed: 32 knots
Crew: 437

Hr. Ms. De Ruyter.


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