FolkestoneJack's Tracks

HNLMS Holland and (a bit of) the Royal Charles at Greenwich

Posted in England, London by folkestonejack on March 15, 2012

The Dutch offshore patrol vessel HNLMS Holland (P840) arrived in Greenwich today on a rather unusual mission to deliver the stern carving from the 17th century British naval vessel HMS Royal Charles into the temporary custody of the National Maritime Museum for the exhibition ‘Power, Pageantry & the Thames’. It is the first time that the carving has left the Netherlands since its capture from the British in 1667!

HNLMS Holland (P840) at Greenwich on 15th March 2012

The Royal Charles was the flagship of the British Royal Navy when it was captured during the infamous Raid on the Medway of June 1667. The capture was a blow to the reputation of the Royal Navy and British naval defences – whilst the boost to the Dutch Republic is apparent in the famous picture by Ludolf Backhuysen which shows the Royal Charles Carried into Dutch Waters with the tricolour of the republic proudly flying. The ship was scrapped in 1673 but the carving was preserved as an important trophy. Today the carving is part of the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

The HNLMS Holland was originally due to arrive in Greenwich on the morning high tide but this plan was scuppered by dense fog. Instead the ship docked at Tilbury and only started her journey up the Thames around 1pm, finally arriving at 3pm. In the meantime the location for the handover of the stern was altered from the ship to the National Maritime Museum with the Prince of Orange in attendance.

HNLMS Holland (P840) was moored near the new Galliard housing development

HNLMS Holland (P840) with the Shard ever present in the background

I took a rather long-winded detour home via Greenwich to take a look at the Holland – arriving with some 15-20 minutes to grab some shots before the sun set completely. The ship was moored outside the new flats under construction near the Cutty Sark. I took a few shots from the opposite bank and then took the pedestrian tunnel under the Thames to get some head on shots in the dying light.

The HNLMS Holland was the first ship of the Holland class Offshore Patrol Vessels to be completed by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding at Vlissingen. The ship was launched in February 2010 and commissioned in 2011. Three further vessels will be commissioned between 2012 and 2013. The Holland is striking in its sleek look and innovative in its design, featuring an integrated mast which is intended to optimise radar and sensor performance. As a vision of the future it made quite an impression on me and other passers by at Greenwich today.

HNLMS Holland (P840) in the fading light with a distant view of the Shard in the background

The Thames Tug 'Swiftstone' with HNLMS Holland in the background

Further information about the visit can be found in the press release The conferral of the stern carving of the Royal Charles from the Dutch Embassy. As for the raid of 1667, there’s lots of information online but nothing beats a trip to Upnor Castle which gives you a real feel for the location and provides a helpful 12 minute diorama which illustrates the sequence of events that led to one of the Royal Navy’s worst defeats. I made the trip last year (see Strood to Upnor) and would certainly recommend it.