Built by Wilton Fijenoord Dock in Rotterdam. Ordered during March 1935 with construction begun during October 1936. Delivered to the Koninklijke Marine (Royal Netherlands Navy). Named "De Ruyter" for Royal Netherlands Navy
officer de Ruyter. Assigned to captain E. E. B. Lacomblé.
The De Ruyter was the flagship of RNN Rear Admiral Karel Doorman, and carried
the flag of the multi-national 'Allied Fleet' or ABDAFLOAT (American-British-Dutch-Australian Floatilla).
Around midnight on February 27, 1942 during the Battle of the Java Sea, both Hr Ms De Ruyter and Hr Ms Java were sunk minutes apart by 24" torpedoes fired by Japanese Cruisers Nachi and Haguro. Aboard,
Doorman along with his crew of 345 went down with the vessel.
On December 1, 2002 the shipwreck of De Ruyter was discovered by divers from MV Empress including Kevin
Denlay using side scan sonar and divers to positively identify vessel. The shipwreck is upright, although tilted over to starboard off Bawean Island in the Java Sea. That same day, the team also discovered Hr Ms Java. The team's principal objective was to
locate HMS Exeter but they were thrilled to
find the two Dutch light cruisers instead.
Between 2002 to 2016, the shipwreck was also dived by Indonesian salvage divers that illegally removed scrap metal and completely scrapped the shipwreck by November 2016.
Between 2002 to 2016, the shipwreck was also dived by Indonesian salvage divers that illegally removed scrap metal and completely scrapped the shipwreck by November 2016. During November 2016, the Netherlands Defence Ministry said in a statement: “The wrecks of HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java have seemingly gone completely missing. A large piece is also missing of HNLMS Kortenaer.”
The Guardian "Mystery as wrecks of three Dutch WWII ships vanish from Java seabed" November 16, 2016
"The [Netherlands defence] ministry said in a statement: “The wrecks of HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java have seemingly gone completely missing. A large piece is also missing of HNLMS Kortenaer.”
History of War: "Java Sea Shipwrecks of World War 2: One of the men who found them reflects on their loss" by James Hoare November 23, 2016
Thanks to Kevin
Denlay for this information and photographs
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November 16, 2018