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The Dutch submarines attack !
The Defence of the Dutch East Indies 1941-1942


On 7 December 1942 Royal Dutch East Indies Navy (Nederlands-Indië Marine) had 15 submarines. The Submarine Flotilla was the under command of Lt.Cdr. A.J. Bussemaker with a headquarters located at Soerabaja Naval Base, Java Island.

The Submarine Flotilla was divided into 4 submarine divisions:

1st Submarine Division (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Bussemaker)
- submarine 0-16 (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Bussemaker)
- submarine K-XVII (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Besançon)
- submarine K-XVIII (until 4 January 1942 under command of Lt.Cdr. M.A.J. Derksema, after that it was under command of Lt.Cdr. C.A.J van Well Groeneveld)

2nd Submarine Division (Lt.Cdr. M.A.J. Derksema)
- submarine K-XIII (Lt.Cdr. M.A.J. Derksema)
- submarine K-XII (Lt.Cdr. H.J.C. Coumou)
- submarine K-XI (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Deketh)
- submarine K-X (Lt.Cdr. P.G. de Back)
- submarine K-IX (Lt.Cdr. P.G. de Back till 6 January 1942, Lt. J.W Caspers till 1 March 1942, Lt. T. Brunstig till 15 July 1942)
- submarine K-VIII (Lt.Cdr. M.A.J. Derksema from 6 January till 11 April 1942, after 11 April it was under command of Lt. J.W. Caspers)

3rd Submarine Division (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Mulock van den Vlies Bik, from 13 December 1941 on it was commanded by Lt.Cdr. C.A.J van Well Groeneveld)
- submarine K-XIV (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Mulock van den Vlies Bik; from 15 December 1941/4 January 1942 was under command of Lt. Cdr. C.A.J van Well Groeneveld till 13 February 1942 under command of Lt. T. Brunstig and than again under command of Lt.Cdr. P.A. Mulock van den Vlies Bik)
- submarine K-XV (Lt.Cdr. Baron C.V.T. van Boetzelaer)
- submarine K-XVI (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Jarman)


4th Submarine Division (Lt.Cdr. F.J.A. Knoops)
- submarine 0-19 (Lt.Cdr. F.J.A. Knoops; after 28 December 1941 under command of Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bach-Kolling)
- submarine 0-20 (Lt.Cdr. P.J.C. Snippe)

• three submarines were under repair in Soerabaja, Java:
- submarine K-X (Lt.Cdr. P.G. de Back)
- submarine K-IX (Lt. Cdr. P.G. de Back; after 6 January 1942 is under command of Lt. J.W Caspers and after 1 March 1942 is under command of Lt. T. Brunstig)
- submarine K-VII (Lt. P.J. Mulder)

The Submarine Flotilla also had a submarine tender Zuiderkruis ( 2661t and armament of 2 x 76mm guns and 2 x 20mm guns).


Defence of the Netherlands East Indies – Dutch Submarine Actions
• Submarine K-VII
The Dutch submarine K-VII was destroyed on 18 February 1942 during a Japanese air raid while she is submerged in Soerabaja harbour.

Dutch submarine K-VII

Dutch submarine K-VII

• Submarine K-VIII
On 21 December 1941 the submarine K-XIII is heavily damaged due to a battery explosion in Singapore harbour. The K-XIII is sent back to Soerabaja for repairs, where most of its crew is transfered aboard the submarine K-VIII. At the end of February and at the beginning of March 1942 the submarine K-VIII patrolled the Java Sea and the Madura Strait. No attacks were made. After the Japanese invaded Java Island, submarine K-VIII sailed to Fremantle, Australia.

• Submarine K-IX
On 7 December 1941 the Dutch submarine K-IX was under repair in Soerabaja harbour. The crew of K-IX is transferred to the K-X. On March 1942 the submarine returned to active service under command of Lt. T. Brunstig. She performed a war patrol to the Gulf of Siam but she had to return early due to some engine problems. She sailed to Fremantle, Australia because at that time Soerabaja was already occupied by the Japanese.

• Submarine K-X
From 8 December 1941 till 2 March 1942 is under command of Lt.Cdr. P.G.de Back. On 25 December 1941 she is ordered to sail to the Celebes Sea (via Ambon Island) in order to attack a Japanese Invasion Fleet in front of Davao City, Philippines. Five days later she received an order to sail to Tarakan Island, Borneo. She patrolled for a while between Borneo and Java but on 10 January 1942 she returned to Tarakan Island due to engine problems. On 11 January the Japanese invade Tarakan Island. The K-X escapes although attacked by a Japanese floatplane while she was sailing through a Dutch minefield. She sails via the Makassar Strait to Soerabaja, Java Island. In the period between 28 February - 1 March 1942 she conducted several patrols in the Java Sea and off the Philippines but she had to return to Soerabaja again because of engine problems. While she was sailing through the Java Sea near Rembang (Java), she was attacked by a Japanese destroyer and seriously damaged by the depth-charges. Despite that she sailed safely to Soerabaja. On 2 March 1942 she was scuttled in Soerabaja in order to avoid Japanese capture.

Dutch submarine K-X

Dutch submarine K-X

• Submarine K-XI
On 7 December 1941 the Dutch submarine K-XI was patrolling in the Gulf of Siam. From 8 December 1941 till 23 January 1942 the K-XI was based at the British Naval Base in Singapore and was subordinated to British Eastern Fleet Command. Till 21 December she patrolled off the East Coast of Malacca. On 10 December she attacked a Japanese landing fleet north east of Malacca. After that she patrolled till 3 January 1942 in the South China Sea where no attacks on the enemy are made. From 10 January she again patrolled, this time off the West Coast of Malacca. She returned to the Dutch Naval Base at Soerabaja for a while due to engine failure. On 5 February 1942 she was again at sea, this time she patrolled off the East Coast of Sumatra where again no attacks on the Japanese Fleet were made. She again returned to Soerabaja for repair and because of the threat of Japanese occupation of Soerabaja she sailed to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Dutch submarine K-XI

Dutch submarine K-XI

• Submarine K-XII
From 7 December 1941 till February 1942 she was based in Singapore and put under Command of the British Eastern Fleet. From 7 December till 16 December 1941 she patrolled in the South China Sea and she attacked two Japanese ships: freighter Toro Maru (1939t) and tanker Taizan Maru (3525t). Till 16 December 1941 the K-XII patrolled off the East Coast of Malacca (near Pahang River). From 21 December till 27 December 1941 the K-XII patrolled west of the Anambas Islands where one unsuccessful attack on a Japanese submarine was made. She met another Dutch submarine K-XVII, which soon after was sunk. From 30 December 1941 - 11 January 1942 the K-XII patrolled in the South China Sea. No attacks are recorded. From 19 January - 31 January 1942 the K-XII patrolled in the Makassar Strait. Also no attacks are recorded. After that she patrolled for a while in the waters off Southeast Sumatra where again no attacks were made. The K-XII returned to Soerabaja and on 6 March 1942 submarine K-XII sailed to Fremantle, Australia.

• Submarine K-XIII
Between 20 September 1941 - 6 January 1942 the K-XIII was under the command of Lt.Cdr. M.A.J. Derksema. Between 7 December - 16 December 1941 it patrolled off Malaya and in the South China Sea. On 10 December 1941 unsuccessfully attacked the Japanese invasion fleet off the north east coast of Malaya peninsula. During 14 December - 16 December 1941 the K-XIII patrolled near the Pahang and Kuantang Rivers. In the period between 8 December - 21 December 1941 it is based at Singapore Naval Base and is placed under British Eastern Fleet operational control. On 21 December 1941 a battery explosion in Singapore harbour damaged K-XIII. Three men are killed and three are wounded. From 21 December 1941 - 6 January 1942 is escorted by the destroyer Van Nes to Soerabaya for much needed repairs. Most of its crew is transfered to the K-VIII. The submarine arrived in Soerabaja on 6 January 1942 and stayed under repair in the naval dock in Soerabaja from January till March 1942. On 2 March 1942 the Dutch decided to scuttle the boat in order to prevent the invading Japanese forces from capturing the damaged boat.

• Submarine K-XIV
From 6 December - 27 December 1941 submarine K-KIV patrolled west of Borneo. On 23 December 1941 the K-XIV patrolled off Kuching where she attacked several Japanese vessels which were anchored there:
- one destroyer was unsuccessfully attacked
- one freighter was unsuccessfully attacked
- Japanese transport ship Katori Maru (9848t) was torpedoed and sunk
- Japanese transport ship Hiyoshi Maru (4943t) was torpedoed and sunk
- Japanese transport ship Hokkai Maru (8416t) was damaged
- Japanese tanker Nichiran Maru (6503t) was damaged
After this attack the K-XIV returned to Soerabaja. She had spent all her torpedoes. On 6 January-22 February 1942 the K-XIV patrolled in the Makassar Strait. She attacked one Japanese convoy but the attack is unsuccessful and she was also damaged during this attack. Therefore she returned to Soerabaja. During 14 February - 12/13 March 1942 the K-XIV patrolled in the north of Klabat Bay, in the South China Sea and in the western part of the Java Sea while expecting Japanese landings on this main Indonesian Island. On 1 March 1942 the K-XIV attacked one Japanese Kuma Class cruiser but the attack was unsuccessful. She then sailed straight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

• Submarine K-XV
During 8 December - 16 December 1941 the K-XV patrolled off west Borneo. After that she patrolled till 30 December 1941 in the Java Sea. On 23 December she patrolled for a while off Kuching while a Japanese invasion was expected. In January - February 1942 the K-XV was under repair in Soerabaja. From 14 February - 13 March 1942 submarine K-XV patrolled in the Java Sea and in the Indian Ocean. Two Japanese ships were attacked:
- on 20 February 1942 an unsuccessful attack on a Japanese freighter
- on 1 March 1942 Japanese tanker Tsurumi is attacked an damaged in the Bay of Bantam, north west Java Island. During this last attack the K-XV suffered some damage to the fuel tanks. She sailed to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

• Submarine K-XVI
From 8 December - 25 December 1942 submarine K-XVI patrolled between Soerabaja and the South China Sea. On 23 December the K-XVI patrolled off Kuching where a Japanese invasion is expected. On 24 December 1941 the K-XVI torpedoed and sank a Japanese destroyer Sagiri (1750t) north of Kuching-position 01 d. 34'' N., 110 d. 21'' E.; the K-XVI tried to attack another Japanese destroyer Marakumo but this attack failed. Encouraged with this success the Dutch Commander, Lt.Cdr. L.J. Jarman, remained too long in these dangerous waters and on the following day on 24 December Dutch submarine K-XVI was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-66 (Cdr. Yoshitome). All the crew were lost.

Dutch submarine K-XVI

Dutch submarine K-XVI

• Submarine K-XVII
On 8 December 1941 the K-XVII was based in Singapore and subordinated to British Eastern Fleet Command. On 8 December she patrolled off the East Coast of Malacca (Pahang River Area) and in the Gulf of Siam. At the end of December 1941 (21 December?) K-XVII struck a sea mine while she was exiting the Gulf of Siam. All the crew were lost. She sailed right into a Japanese line of mines, which also sunk the Dutch submarine 0-16.

• Submarine K-XVIII
From 6 January 1941 the K-XVIII patrolled in the Makassar Strait. Several ships were attacked:
- on 22 February 1942 Dutch lightship Orion, which was anchored near Balikpapan, was scuttled by the gunfire of K-XVIII
- on 23/24 January 1942 a Japanese convoy off Balikpapan is attacked. The Japanese passenger ship Tsuruga Maru (6988t) is torpedoed and sunk. On 24 January during the attack in Balikpapan the K-XVIII was heavily damaged by depth-charges. She had to return to Soerabaja. In Soerabaja the K-XVIII was used to sink docked Dutch destroyer Banckert which was severely damaged in air raids on 24th and 28th of February 1942. On 2 March 1942 was submarine K-XVIII was scuttled in Soerabaja in order to avoid Japanese capture.

Dutch submarine K-XVIII

Dutch submarine K-XVIII

• Submarine O-16
From 6 December - 15 December 1941 submarine O-16 patrolled in the South China Sea. On 8 December she made several attacks on the Japanese invasion fleet north east of Malaya. On 10 December 1941 the O-16 damaged a Japanese transport ship Ayatosan Maru ( 9788t) or Sakura Maru (7170t). On 12 December 1941 she attacked several Japanese ships in the Bay of Soengei Patani which is on the East Coast of Malaya. Several ships are torpedoed:
- Japanese transport ship Tozan Maru (8666t) is torpedoed and sunk
- Japanese transport ship Asosan Maru (8812t) is torpedoed and sunk
- Japanese transport ship Kinka Maru (9306t) is torpedoed and sunk
After this attack submarine O-16 was ordered to return to Singapore. On 15 December 1941 submarine O-16 struck a mine while she was exiting the Gulf of Siam. The submarine was nearly broken in half. Only one crew member, seaman Cornelis de Wolf, managed to survive the sinking of the submarine. The submarine O-16 sailed right into a Japanese minefield, which also sank the submarine K-XVII.

Dutch submarine O-16

Dutch submarine O-16

• Submarine O-19
At the beginning of the war in the Pacific (December 1941) the submarine O-19 was based in Singapore and subordinated to the British Eastern Fleet Command. From 14 December - 25 December 1941 submarine O-19 patrolled in the South China Sea. Several unsuccessful attacks on Japanese ships or convoys were made. From 1 January - 15 January 1942 the O-19 again patrolled in the South China Sea. This time two Japanese ships are sunk:
- on 10 January 1942 a Japanese freighter Akita Maru (3817t) and freighter Tairu Maru (4994t) were torpedoed and sunk.
From 15 January - 28 January 1942 submarine O-19 patrolled in the Makassar Strait. From 26 February - 1 March she patrolled in the Java Sea between the Java coast and Bawean Island. She barely escaped from a Japanese destroyer, which heavily damaged submarine O-19 by depth-charges. Despite that she returned to Soerabaja where she participated in the evacuation and sailed during the night from Soerabaja and sailed via the Strait of Sapé to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Dutch submarine O-19

Dutch submarine O-19

• Submarine O-20
In December 1941 O-20 was based in Singapore and under British Eastern Fleet Command. From 14 December - 19 December the submarine O-20 patrolled in the South China Sea. On 19 December 1941 the O-20 unsuccessfully attacked a Japanese destroyer. After being chased by destroyers Yugiri, Uranami, Ayanami and planes, the crew of the submarine O-20 scuttled their submarine 25 miles east of Kota Bharu (East Coast of Malaya). The following day (20 December) a Japanese destroyer Uranami rescued 32 survivors but seven crew members, including Commander Lt.Cdr. P.G.J. Snippe were lost.



The Submarines of the Royal Netherlands Navy
If you would like to know more about Dutch submarines and their operations in the Pacific and European Theatres, then 'The submarines of the Royal Natherlands Navy Website' is the right place for you ...


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Copyright © Klemen. L. 1999-2000
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942

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