Dutch clipper

While the majority of the clipper ships sailed under British and American flags, more than a hundred clippers were built in the Netherlands. They were medium clippers rather than the larger extreme clipper.

At an exhibition in Amsterdam in 1852 the Dutch lieutenant-commander M.H. Jansen showed a model of a medium-clipper which he obtained from the shipbuilders Perrine, Patterson & Stack of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The shipping company of Gebr. Blussé (Dordrecht) were very impressed by this model. This resulted in the launching of the clipper Kosmopoliet (800 tons) for the company in 1854. She is said to be the first Dutch clipper.

But in 1850 the barque Magdalena (377 ton) was built in Amsterdam, and in 1853 four more ships with clipper lines were launched, of which the iron ship California (663 ton) is the most famous. She was built by Fop Smit, commanded by F.C. Jaski for the company L. Bienfait & sn. On her maiden voyage Jaski sailed her in 86 days from The Downs to Port Adelaide, delivering a hundred satisfied English immigrants.

The Kosmopoliet also carried cargo and passengers. She was full-rigged and carried royals and skysails on all three masts. Though a voyage from Holland to Java normally took a hundred days or more (port to port), the Kosmopoliet completed her maiden voyage in 89 days. Later she did the passage in 76, 74 and 77 days. In 1862 the Kosmopoliet II (1200 tons) was launched, followed by Kosmopolitet III, which measured 1385 tons.

Other companies soon followed Gebr. Blussé. Some clipper ships were purchased from abroad, like the Electra (formerly, Witch of the Wave), but most were built in Dutch shipyards. Other famous series were built, like the Noach I to VI (950 to 1350 tons), several Thorbecke's, the Lichtstraal (1260 tons), Voorlichter (1660 tons), Nestor, Utrecht, etc.

In 1874 a Dutch government investigation into the condition of the shipping industry, called the Enquête of 1874, stated that in 1868 sixteen clipper ships were registered, with a total tonnage of 6000 tons. In 1873 there were eighteen ships (totalling 7878 tons). However, other sources mention a greater number of ships that can be called medium clippers.

Probably there was a difference of opinion in the definition of the clipper. Maybe the ships in the Enquête were only called clipper when they were full rigged, but there were other rigs too. In 1854 for example, the Argo was launched as a 4-masted Jackass-barque. Others were rigged as barque and the Reinhart was a brigantine.

Some figures

The book De clippers of Anno Teenstra (1946) contains a list of all ships under Dutch flag which were classified as clippers during the period 1850-1890. The total list enumerates 140 ships. Eighteen of those were built in foreign shipyards.

Of the 122 Dutch ships:

61 were built as full rigged ships
44 were built as barques
15 were built as brigs
2 were built as schooners
1 was built as a brigantine

In later years some of the full-rigged ships were re-rigged as other types. 21 were re-rigged as barques, and 1 barque was even re-rigged into a ship. One re-rigged barque was further reduced into a schooner.

Ten ships were built in iron, 6 were composite ships and 3 were built in steel. Three ships were built with auxiliary steam engines, but all three ships had the engines taken out after a few years.

Even today the Dutch have a clipper sailing - the full rigged ship Stad Amsterdam. Built in 2000 by Damen Shipyards, owned by Randstad Holding and the city of Amsterdam. They also built the Cisne Branco which was commissioned for Brazilian Navy in 2000.


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