On March 3th (Ash Wednesday) 1677, a French fleet under admiral D'Estree entered Rockley Bay to find 13 Dutch ships ready to do battle. It is recorded that in the ensuing conflagration, more than 2,000 would die, including 300 women, children and slaves who were aboard supply ships anchored behind the battle line.
[Published 19-5-1677 Paris]
On the 3rd of March the King's ships entered into the Road, where the Dutch lay at an anchor in a line under the protection of 30 pieces of cannon which they had planted on the shore, the fight begun at seven in the morning, and continued with great obstinacy till five in the evening, during which time a ship called the Marquis, boarding a Dutch man of war (Huis te Kruiningen), which took fire, they were both burnt, and only one officer belonging to the Marquis escaped, who reported that they were master of the Dutchman before the ship took fire, which was followed by another ill accident, for the Dutch Rear Admiral, a ship of 66 guns, being likewise set on fire, and not long after blowing up by her own powder. The ship Glorieux, where was the Count de Estree, which happened to be very near the said Rear Admiral, was all covered with fire, which soon put her in a flame that could not be quenched, the Count de Estree, with two or three principal officers, saved themselves in a small boat, which being pierced by one of the many shot the Dutch made at it, they with much difficulty got within 100 paces of the land before it sunk, and so the Count de Estree and the rest got ashore where they continued about an hour half when a Chaloup of one of our ships fetched them off. By this time we had destroyed the Enemy's whole squadron, for 11 of their ships were burnt or sunk, and three driven ashore, and on our side, besides those two accidentally burnt, two more were sunk. The Count de Estree being come on board, stood a little aft to sea, and anchored in the entrance of the Road according to the sign given by him the rest likewise did, to repair the damages they had received, and there the count de Estree understood that the attack at land had not succeeded and that most of the officers were killed or wounded, and the next day the soldiers that had been employed therein, came on board.More than 300 years later and that history is now being uncovered less than 25 metres underwater along the path taken by the Tobago ferry, where as many as 20 shipwrecks are located.
Built: Amsterdam, 1653
Owner: Admiralty Amsterdam
Dimensions: 140 x 34 x 13,5 vt
Master: Michiel de Ruyter (1653) Swart (1667) Roemer Vlack (1677)
Armament: 58 (1667)
In 2012, a research team, began work on a project to identify and preserve some of the wrecks in the Rockley Bay. The first results were published in 2014.
One of the sites (TRB-5) discovered during the Rockley Bay Research project is believed to be Huis te Kruiningen. Artifacts (clay pipes) and 8 heavy canons (caliber 18-24 p0unds) identify the site as a Dutch men-of-war. There are two possible candidates, Middelburg or Huis te Kruiningen.
- Goslinga C. C. (1971). The Dutch in The Caribbean and on the Wild Coast: 1580 - 1680. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press..
- Institute of Nautical Archaeology.
Rockley Bay Research Project.
- Jason Paterniti, Douglas Inglis, 2014, The Explorerers Club Flag, 117 REPORT, In Search of the Dutch Fleet of 1677 Tobago, West Indies (pdf).
- ArcheoNieuws (2014).
Nederlands schip gevonden in Caraïben.
- James Bender (2014).
Dutch Warships in the age of sail: 1600-1714; p. 83 p.195.