SS Jan Pieterszoon Coen

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COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM S.S. 'Jan Pieterszoon Coen' gemeerd aan de handelssteiger te Sabang op het eiland We Noord-Sumatra TMnr 10007920
SS Jan Pieterszoon Coen in Sabang ca. 1935
Name: Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1915-1940)
Namesake: Governor-General Jan Pieterszoon Coen
Owner: Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland (SMN)
Port of registry:  Netherlands, Amsterdam
Route: Amsterdam - Batavia
Ordered: 27 December 1912
Builder: Nederlandsche Scheepsbouw Mij. N. V.
Cost: 3.720.423 Gulden
Yard number: 130
Laid down: 14 October 1913
Launched: 30 September 1914
Christened: 30 September 1914
Completed: 17 June 1915
Acquired: 17 June 1915
Maiden voyage: 11 September 1915
In service: 11 September 1915
Out of service: 14 May 1940
  • ICS Papa.svgICS Delta.svgICS Kilo.svgICS Bravo.svg PDKB
  • ICS Papa.svgICS Echo.svgICS Zulu.svgICS Papa.svg PEZP (Since 1934)
Fate: Scuttled as a blockship in May 1940 and Scrapped in 1945 and 1968
General characteristics
Type: Passenger ship
Tonnage: 11.692 GRT
Length: 159 metres (521 ft 8 in)
Beam: 18.4 metres (60 ft 4 in)
Depth: 10 metres (32 ft 10 in)
Decks: 3 and a shelter deck
Installed power: 2 Triple Expansion Engine
Propulsion: Double screw propellers
Sail plan: Amsterdam - Batavia
Speed: 15 knots
  • 454 passengers
  • First Class: 200
  • Second Class: 166
  • Third Class: 46
  • Steerage: 42

SS Jan Pieterszoon Coen was a Dutch passenger ship that was scuttled as a blockship during the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 in the port of IJmuiden, North Holland to prevent the German Navy from entering the port.[1]


SS Jan Pieterszoon Coen was ordered on 27 December 1912 and laid down on 14 October 1913 at the Nederlandsche Scheepsbouw Maatschappij shipyard in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She was launched and christened by Miss Cornelia Anna Clasina den Tex on 30 September 1914. She was completed and acquired on 17 June 1915 and she made her maiden voyage on 11 September 1915.[2]

The ship was 159 metres (521 ft 8 in) long, with a beam of 18.4 metres (60 ft 4 in) and a depth of 10 metres (32 ft 10 in). She was assessed at 11.692 GRT. She had 2 triple expansion engines driving double screw propellers and the engine was rated at 1.364 nhp.[2]

Jan Pieterszoon Coen by Jacob Waben
The ship was named after Governor-General Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1587-1629)

Early career[edit]

Sea trials[edit]

After being completed in June 1915, Jan Pieterszoon Coen became the new flagship of the Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland and was also the largest ship ever to be built in the Netherlands at the time. She completed her sea trials in IJmuiden in June 1915 with several passengers aboard, including the company's president J.B.A Jonckheer, four ministers with their spouses, the Mayor of Amsterdam with his spouse and two law enforcers. There were also a high number of officials, important business relation officials and the supervisory boards and the boards of shipyard and shipping company of the SMN.[3]

The ship's Master at the time was Captain H.G.J Uylkens who led the ship to open seas together with the tugboat Cycloop van Zurmülen. The ship sailed South past Zandvoort, Katwijk, Noordwijk and Scheveningen. During lunch however, a submarine was spotted by the guests and crew. Everyone became worried at first, but it was soon clear that it was a Dutch submarine that was given orders to guide Jan Pieterszoon Coen back to IJmuiden. The ship completed her sea trials and arrived back in IJmuiden without incident.[3]

Active service[edit]

SS Jan Pieterszoon Coen docked in Batavia ca. 1937

On 11 September 1915 at 3PM, Jan Pieterszoon Coen left Amsterdam, Netherlands for her maiden voyage to Batavia. She sailed through the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal to reach her destination.[3]

SS Jan Pieterszoon Coen left Amsterdam for Batavia again on 1 Januari 1916, but this time she would sail around Cape of Good Hope and Cape Town to reach Batavia. She would arrive on 17 February 1916 before returning to the Netherlands, where she arrived on 6 May. After the war, the ship would continue to sail the Amsterdam - Batavia route.[3]

Later service and end[edit]

Jan Pieterszoon Coen left Batavia for the last time on 28 June 1939 and was stationed in Amsterdam on 29 July 1939 where she was waiting to be scrapped. However, due to the outbreak of the Second World War, the ship was needed again and she made two short voyages to Lisbon, Portugal in order to retrieve passengers from the MS Oranje.[4]

When the German Army invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, the Royal Netherlands Navy made a plan which involved scuttling Jan Pieterszoon Coen at the entrance of the port of IJmuiden in order to prevent German warships entering the harbor. The plan was set in motion in the night of 14 May 1940, Captain R. van Rees Vellinga sailed Jan Pieterszoon Coen from Amsterdam to IJmuiden. Once there, the ship was supposed to be escorted to the harbor entrance by two tugboats, but they were accidentally sunk too early. As a solution to the problem, The Royal Netherlands Navy ordered the tugboat Atjeh and a minesweeper to tow the ship into place. The tugboat and minesweeper towed the ship into place with much difficulty due to the tide change. The ship was positioned with the bow to the Southern pier and the stern to the Northern pier of the port entrance. The explosives which were previously installed on the ship were detonated and the ship sank between the piers. Her upper decks were still sticking out of the water due to the shallow depths. The plan was successful and the ship prohibited German ships to enter the harbor, the Netherlands however surrendered to the Axis powers and was occupied by Nazi-Germany.[1]

Modern day view of the port entrance of IJmuiden, the piers are clearly visible on the left


The German Army emptied the ship of movable property during 1940, they could do this because the ship was mostly above water. Rijkswaterstaat was thinking of salvaging Jan Pieterszoon Coen, since the ship was mostly intact and in shallow waters. But due to a series of storms, the ship sank deeper into the sand. In 1941, a 50-meter portion of the stern was removed so big ships could sail into the harbor again.[5]

During the remainder of the war, Jan Pieterszoon Coen sank deeper into the sea and her upper decks were severely damaged and deteriorated by the strong waves that constantly pounded the ship. The funnels and some decks had also collapsed during this period. After the war in May and June 1945, the Royal Netherlands Navy with help from the Royal Navy, destroyed what was left of the ship with depth charges. However, a lot of debris was left in the entrance and the Dutch government was forced to clean up the debris from the bottom of the sea in 1968 so bigger ships could sail into the harbor without problems.[5]


  1. ^ a b "3e Conradstraat 1894". 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "SS Jan Pieterszoon Coen (+1940)". 11 March 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d "SS Jan Pieterszoon Coen PDKB/PFL/PEZP 17 juni 1915 – 14 mei 1940". Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "JAN PIETERSZOON COEN". Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Nederlandse niet-gemilitariseerde hulpschepen: zinkschepen". 2002. Retrieved 15 May 2016.