My Navy Time 02

Minesweeper support ship

HMS. "Willem van der Zaan" (A880)

Wapenschild Hr. Ms. Willem van der Zaan

From April 1961 to April 1962 I was placed on board HMS. "Willem van der Zaan" at the Buitenhaven in Vlissingen.

My task there was the same as at the Minesweepers Conservation Service in Den Helder. A number of preserved minesweepers were also located here, which had to be regularly checked and supplied.

But there were also an operational squadron of coastal minesweepers and a squadron of inshore minesweepers. Vlissingen was their home port. Those ships also had to be supplied, of course. As a supply team, we had to take care of that. My boss and division chief was Lieutenant at sea of special services second class oldest category S. de Jong. That was a great man. I think he was later the first head of the Mine School in Ostend. (But I'm not sure). My immediate superiors were Sergeant Oosterhof and Corporal Prud'homme de Lodder. I have encountered the last a few times in my further career at the navy.

On September 1, 1961, I was promoted to 2nd class warehouse manager.

But gradually the time that I was there I really started to get the itch to sail. You didn't join the Navy for nothing, because you wanted to see something of the world. But so far I've only met HMS. "Sittard" sailed back and forth a bit off the coast.

At one point I took the plunge and in the spring of 1962 submitted a request for transfer to a sailing deployment, preferably a submarine destroyer assigned to the then Squadron V. I received a reply fairly quickly that at that time on board of the ships no warehouse manager vacancy was vacant, unfortunately. So I had to come up with another ruse.

Then I submitted a request for training as an assistant (ship) diver. Because somehow I wanted to leave Vlissingen. Not because I didn't like it there, but I just wanted something different. Nothing happened there. I wanted excitement and adventure and I didn't find that there. My request was granted and I had to report to the Mine Counter-Measures Services Barracks in Den Helder for the diver examination. That took about three days because that examination is not nothing. I also experienced that. The final test was staying in a decompression tank for an hour, not only to see if you could tolerate the pressure, but also if you could tolerate pure oxygen. Obviously not everyone can handle that. I had no problem with that. One person had pressure problems because he had a cold and had to leave the decompression tank. The pressure was increased in the tank to an equivalent pressure at a depth of 18 meters. Of the seven men who started the examination, three were eventually approved, including my person.

Training was to begin May 21, 1962. So relieved I boarded the train to Vlissingen, finally something different. But as soon as I arrived in Vlissingen I was told that I had to be examined for the tropics as soon as possible and that I had to report to the Van Gentkazerne in Rotterdam for that examination within a week. Because the intention was that I urgently with the HMS. "Pelikaan" (A830) was to leave for the former Dutch New Guinea on May 22, 1962. I still sputtered against the fact that training was going to be broadcast. Besides, I was not yet eighteen years old. Well, they didn't care about that at all, because a state of war had arisen in Dutch New Guinea and that goes for education, moreover I would be eighteen years old on the journey there. And I went sailing, wasn't that what I wanted? So I didn't have to cry anymore.

Images and additional information

(Most images can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Uitleg van het wapen van de Willem van der Zaan
HMS. "Willem van der Zaan" still in active service as F824

HMS. "Willem van der Zaan" still in active service as F824

length                                              75,20 m

Beam                                                 11,20 m

Draught                                              3,40 m

St. displacement                            1143 tons

Power supplied by 2 Triple

Expansion steam installation            2300 hp

Speed                                                15,5 kn

Crew                                                       160


12 cm guns Bofors                                2 pcs

40 mm machine guns Bofors                 2 pcs

20 mm machine guns Oerlikon              4 pcs

Depth charge racks                             2 pcs

Depth charge launchers                       4 pcs

HMS. "Willem van der Zaan" was built at the Ned. Dock Comp. Amsterdam and commissioned on 21 August 1939.

Christmas dinner on board.

State insignia of second class (1 September 1961 promoted)

State insignia of second class (1 September 1961 promoted)
     Compression tank at the Mines Department
Uitdraai bevordering tot tweede klas magazijnbeheerder

Decompression tank where I spent an hour (of which half an hour on pure oxygen) during the diver examination.

© 2000 PCL