Dirck Gerritsz Pomp

Dirck Gerritszoon Pomp, alias Dirck China (1544–1608) was a Dutch sailor of the 16th-17th century, and the first known Dutchman to visit Japan.

Pomp was born in Enkhuizen in The Netherlands, and was lodged with relatives in Lisbon in 1555, to learn Portuguese and train as merchant. In 1568 Dirk established himself as a merchant on the isle of Goa from where he visited China and Japan aboard Portuguese ships. Although the date of his first visit is not known, he sailed to Japan twice before 1600, and it is recorded that he arrived in Japan on July 31, 1585 for his second visit there, on the Portuguese ship Santa Cruz.

He described Japan as the "isle where there is a lot of silver and where Portuguese ships arrive every year with silk, which is sold for silver".

He returned to Enkhuizen in April 1590 where he talked abundantly about Japan, and befriended the Dutch merchant Jan Huygen van Linschoten, who apparently relied on some of Pomp's information for his book Itinerario.

In the summer of 1598 Pomp was back at sea. He joined a five ship Dutch expedition under admiral Jacques Mahu with the prima aim of obtaing East-Indian spices, by way of the southern tip of South-America and the Pacific. Should that fail, the expedition would head for silver trade with China or Japan. Notably, among the other adverturers was William Adams, the first known Englishman to reach Japan. A reshuffle of commands following the death of expedition leader Mahu in 1598 led to Pomp receiving command of the Blijde Boodschap ("Good Tiding" or "Gospel")[1]. Strong and adverse winds dispersed the fleet when it risked the Straits of Magellan late in 1599. The Blijde Boodschap passed the Straits, but was blown off her course Southwardly. According to the account of Jacob le Maire, Pomp then observed mountainous land at latitude (64°).[dubious ] If so, these were the South Shetland Islands, and possibly the first European sighting of (isles off) Antarctica.[dubious ] Other accounts however make no mention of this observation, casting doubt on their correctness. A similar story is told of the Spanish Gabriel de Castilla in 1603.[dubious ]

Pomp did not make it across the Pacific. The Blijde Boodschap was so short of supplies it entered the port of Valparaíso mid-November 1599 and was captured by the Spanish. Five years later, in 1604, Pomp was freed in a prisoners exchange and headed for home. He went aboard an Eastindiaman belonging to the Dutch East-India Company in 1606 and seems not to have survived the home voyage.


  1. ^ This vessel, a jacht, was also known as Vliegende Hert or Vliegende Hart ("flying heart", though spelled 'hert' an alternative meaning is "flying deer").

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