HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen - Ships Nostalgia
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HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen

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  #1  
Old 13th April 2017, 21:21
Ron Stringer's Avatar
Ron Stringer Ron Stringer is offline
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HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen

A friend sent me this today and I thought it deserves an airing amongst the sea-going fraternity who might appreciate the sort of out-of-the-box thinking that was so common at sea and so rarely encountered ashore. Ron

Sometimes in life the guy with the so–crazy–it–just–might-work ideas hits one out of the park and saves the day. This is what happened in 1942 aboard the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen, the last Dutch warship standing after the Battle of the Java Sea.

Originally planning to escape to Australia with three other warships, an attack by a Japanese destroyer sank its companions and the then-stranded minesweeper had face making the voyage alone and unprotected.

The slow-moving vessel could only get up to about 15 knots and had very few guns, boasting only a single 3-inch gun and two Oerlikon 20 mm cannons, making it a sitting duck to Japanese bombers that circled above.

Knowing their only chance of survival was to make it to the Allies Down-Under, the Absalom Crijnssen's 45 crew members frantically brainstormed ways to make the retreat undetected. The winning idea?

Turn the ship into an island.

You can almost hear crazy-idea guy anticipating his shipmates' reluctance: Now guys, just hear me out.

But lucky for him the Abraham Crijnessen was strapped for time, resources and alternative means of escape, automatically making the island idea the best idea. Now it was time to put the plan into action.

The crew went ashore to nearby islands and cut down as many trees as they could lug back onto the deck. Then the timber was arranged to look like a jungle canopy, covering as much square footage as possible. Any leftover parts of the ship were painted to look like rocks and cliff faces: these guys weren't messing around.

Photo #1 shows HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen covered in branches

Photo #2 shows the plan in action with HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen disguised as an island.

Now a camouflaged ship in deep trouble is better than a completely exposed ship. But there was still the problem of the Japanese noticing a mysterious moving island and wondering what would happen if they shot at it.

Because of this the crew figured the best means of convincing the Axis powers that they were an island was to truly be an island: by not moving at all during daylight hours. While the sun was up they would anchor the ship near other islands, then cover as much ocean as they could once night fell praying the Japanese wouldn't notice a disappearing and reappearing island amongst the nearly 18,000 existing islands in Indonesia.

And, as luck would have it, they didn't.

The Abraham Crijnssen managed to go undetected by Japanese planes and avoid the destroyer that sank the other Dutch warships, surviving the eight - day journey to Australia and reuniting with Allied forces.

Sometimes in life, the guy with the so – crazy – it –just –might -work ideas hits one out of the park and saves the day.

That is what happened in 1942 aboard the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen, the last Dutch warship standing after the Battle of the Java Sea.
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Last edited by Ron Stringer; 18th October 2017 at 17:39..
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Old 13th April 2017, 21:30
Barrie Youde Barrie Youde is online now  
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Brilliant!
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Old 14th April 2017, 04:28
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Samsette Samsette is offline  
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What a great story of surviving against the odds, using a most original idea for camouflaging a ship. Brilliant, indeed - so why hasn't a motion picture been made of it? Modest people, the Hollanders.
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Old 14th April 2017, 09:37
stehogg stehogg is offline  
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Amazing and truly brilliant account ,hope the crew got the recognition they definitely deserved
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Old 14th April 2017, 19:13
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Samsette Samsette is offline  
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Originally Posted by stehogg View Post
Amazing and truly brilliant account ,hope the crew got the recognition they definitely deserved
Escaping the treatment that would await them at the hands of the Japanese, would be reward enough, I'm sure.
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