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  Hr. Ms. Kortenaer
Koninklijke Marine
(Royal Netherlands Navy)
Admiralen-class destroyer

1,316 Tons (standard)
1,640 Tons (fully loaded)
321' 6" x 31' 3' x 9' 9"
4 x 4.7” (4x1)
2 x 3" AA guns (2x1)
4 x .50 cal MG
6 x 21" torpedoes (2x3)
24 x mines

Aircraft Crane with
Fokker C.VII-W floatplane

Click For Enlargement
Hr Ms prewar
Ship History
Built by Yarrow Shipbuilders in Bergerhout Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Laid down August 24, 1925 as an Admiralen-class destroyer. Launched June 30, 1927. Commissioned September 3, 1928 as Hr Ms Kortenaer named after Dutch Navy officer Kortenaer. Also spelled HNMS Kortenaer or HNLMS Kortenaer.

On February 18, 1942 departed Tjiltjap in the evening accompanied by destroyers Kortenaer, Piet Hein, Ford and USS Pope DD-225 for an attack on Japanese forces landing at Bali. Kortenaer became stuck on a sandbar and had to wait for the tide to become freed.

Sinking History
During the Battle of the Java Sea, on February 27, 1942 was hit by a single torpedo from Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro and sunk with the loss of 60 crew members.

USS John D. Edwards commander officer Alexander Sharp noted:
"Kortenaer, about 700 yards (640 m) bearing 80° relative, was struck on the starboard quarter by a torpedo, blew up, turned over, and sank at once leaving only a jackknifed bow and stern a few feet above the surface."

Fate of the Crew
Afterwards, a total of 113 of 153 were rescued including Lieutenant Commander A. Kroese by HMS Encounter and transported them to Surabaya.

Shipwreck
On August 12, 2004 a group of divers off MV Empress including Kevin Denlay located the shipwreck of Hr. Ms. Kortenaer at a depth of 52 meters upside down in the Java Sea.

Kevin Denlay, reports:
"We first discovered what we believed to be the forward section of the Dutch destroyer Kortenaer, laying completely upside down on 12th August, 2004. However at the time we could find nothing to positively identify that the wreck was actually Kortenaer, although we did find several old Dutch Bols Gin bottles there on the seabed. And the only indication at the time that it was a even a warship was a very large searchlight laying on the seabed next to the jagged break amidships. The visibility was VERY bad; about 2 to 3 metres and the depth was approximately 52 metres. We did not publicize the discovery at the time, in case it turned out not to be her.

However, while back in the Java Sea several months later, on 5th November 2004 we did another dive on the upside down section, and while several of us were searching for clues to positively identify the wreck, the owner/skipper (Vidar Skoglie) of the dive vessel we operate from (MV Empress), 'swam', with the aid of a diver propulsion vehicle or underwater scooter, about 30 to 40 metres away from the upside down section (again in very poor/ even worse visibility than on our first visit) to a 'lump' that had previously shown up on the side scan sonar. Sure enough, it was the stern section of Kortenaer laying well over on its starboard side, with propellers and rudder visible and one set of triple torpedo tubes also visible amongst the large amounts of fishing net that is draped over the wreckage. This was finally THE positive identification we were looking for as no other warship lost in that area had triple torpedo tubes!

Regretfully, although I was this time prepared to take some photos or video I could/did not as the visibility was even worse than the first time we were there (when I also did not take photos/video), probably only 1 to 2 metres or even less in parts this time, what we refer to as 'braille diving', which is simply hopeless for photography."

Between 2002 to 2016, the shipwreck was 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.”

References
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 discovery information

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Last Updated
March 29, 2020

 

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