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The story about "Zeven Provinciën", Royal Netherlands Navy

"Zeven Provinciën", Royal Netherlands Navy

“Zeven Provinciën”

A  very fine painting of this Eighty gun Ship of the Line, full size replica now building at the Batavia Wherf,  Leylastad, in the Netherlands.

The original plan was to produce prints, the sale of which would support this amazing project. At that time it was not possible to produce small print runs economically (it is now).

Collect your signed numbered copy of this beautiful painting using Paypal from page http://www.frickers.co.uk/prints.html 

Batavia Wherf, Oostvaardersdijk P.O. Box 119, 8200 AC Lelystad, the Netherlands.

The Batavia Wherf (Yard), building De Zeven Provinciën ceased trading allegedly due to financial difficulties caused by sponsors in Australia not honouring agreements.

Building seemed to have resumed in 2003.

Our print technology has also moved on and could now deliver small numbers of prints at economic prices.


Don’t miss out, collect your copy of this rare, beautiful painting using Paypal from page http://www.frickers.co.uk/prints.html 


Gordon Frickers and Willum Voss Whilst making drawings of the hull work of the new De Zeven Provinciën and shooting numerous photographs of the workers, the yard and also the “Batavia” replica, Gordon Frickers could not believe the measurements & shape appearing on his sketch pad. As a Cornish trained boat builder himself, (At Falmouth Technical College, Ship and Boat building)  he just had to raise this with the master ship right, Willum Voss.


Willum Vos, shipbuilder, is a very well read, a very experienced fellow, steeped in traditional ways, yet very alive to contemporary demands. His reply gave a sense of hearing something very ancient.

I quote directly from Gordon Frickers sketch book notes, Willum Voss said, ” In Holland we make ships’ like a parabola, always for more cargo“. “Old books from the 17 m century say don’t make the ship to full at the bow.

Always a problem. Hence shape of the front when seen from above on draft“.

As built the hull is shaper than the half model, a deliberate decision by Willum.

Bow & stern are always based on an arc of a circle, 85% of the beam for the bow 75 % of the maximum beam for the stern. Do it by your own,” he said, “always you see you have a good ship“.


Copied here, an original skech drawn by Willum Voss for Gordon Frickers:    ZP_Voss_sketch_b.JPG

For sheer, when you make the ship by eye, you make a point fore & aft. Hang a rope down the center line. Take points & mark off to beam with a spirit level. At bow & stern run the line around the circles previously established. It looks round on paper but sharper in life“.


Gordon Frickers marine artist, was commissioned to produce 2 paintings of De Zeven Provinciën by Henk van der Hoef who took the artist to the yard in the Netherlands, and a few other places including some “Brown” bars!

The original plan was to produce a run of prints the sale of which would further support this amazing project.

At that time it was not possible to produce small print runs economically (it is now) and soon after the yard ceased trading allegedly due to financial difficulties caused by sponsors in Australian not honouring agreements. Building seems to have resumed in 2003.

Our print technology has also moved on so we can now deliver one off copies.


Now is your chance to own a signed numbered  copy of this beautiful painting using Paypal from page http://www.frickers.co.uk/prints.html 


Building the replica

The Batavia Yard was founded in 1985 by a team lead by master shipbuilder Willem Voss.

It is foremost, a centre for traditional ship and boatbuilding and successflly, a training centre for young people, drop outs  80% of whom find work after or go on to higher education.


So far nearly three million people have visited the yard in Lelystad in order to gaze in admiration at the craftmanship.

Since completing the Batavia, the yard has started on a second project which is at least as ambitious as the first one.

On 17 May 1995 a start was made with De Zeven Provinciën (i.e. ‘Seven Provinces’).

The building of this big 17th century warship is taking at least ten years.

The original ship, from the laying of the keel to her sailing out complete and fully stored ready for service took 6 months.

Wow! Some organisation yes?


With the building of the new De Zeven Provinciën, the yard has taken a step forward in experimenting with the traditional techniques of the 17th century.

The new building project which includes this ship is expected to take 15 years.

The hull is built the old Dutch way, from the bottom up, not keel & frames first. A method which has roots eyond the dark ages & which was within a 100 years of the Z.P. building, was ousted by the ‘English’ method of building planks onto frames.

This ancient `Dutch` method is closer to Viking ship building techniques than those used to build Nelson’s “Victory”.

The famous Tudor flagship “Mary Rose” was probably built this way.

Through out the 17th century in the Netherlands it was the Shipwright who decided how a ship was designed & built, not the commissioner. Specifications were written, plans & models followed not preceded the building.


One of the first problems was to find suitable timber in sufficient quantities. Soft wood was found in the Black Forest & eventually oak, in Denmark.

After the oak started to arrive it was discovered to be from a forest originally planted 250 years earlier for ship building – by the Dutch East India Company!


Collect your copy of this beautiful painting using Paypal from page http://www.frickers.co.uk/prints.html 

The original ship

In 1665, ” De Zevern Provinciën” represented the cutting edge of Netherlands design being larger & more powerful than the rest of her fleet. The “Zevern Provinciën” was intended from the out set to be very special, a flagship.  

De Zeven Provinciën was considered unusually fast – which more than a few times saved her from her enemies.

Zeven Provinciën fought the English repeatedly during the Anglo Dutch wars, being involved at all the major actions including the Four Days battle & the raid on the Medway & Thames.

In 1674 she was part of the fleet that, via the Canary Isles, attacked French held Martinique.

1678 saw her allied to the English & operating off the coasts of Spain including into the Mediterranean.


The commercial rivalry between English and Dutch merchants that led to the Anglo-Dutch War of 1652-54 re emerged in the early 1660s.

In anticipation of renewed hostilities, the Dutch undertook a major building program; one of the largest vessels launched was the De Zeven Provinciën.


She was originally built for the Board of Admiralty of Rotterdam in 1664-1665. The construction was part of a large fleet building programme which aimed to intensify the country’s maritime strength against England.

In December 1664 the keel was laid in the admiralty yard in Rotterdam of a new ship whose object it was to serve as the ‘Admiralty ship’. The ship was 163 feet long from stem to stern, 43 feet wide.


She sailed out the following August. Which feat speaks volumes for the organization, skill & efficiency of her builders. This placed her in the period of the Oliver Cromwell, King Charles the second & the Anglo Dutch wars. An age when Dutch maritime power was at its zenith.


Zeven Provinciën” was repaired at Portsmouth in 1692. The English considered her a very fine traditional Dutch ship. Her people were immensely proud of her. Dutch ships of the period were quite distinct from French, English or Spanish. Most notably, they were, in a very ostentatious age, less ornate. Other features instantly distinctive to a sailor included more beam to length ratio, a full round bow, relatively shallow draft.

The site she was built at was regrettably destroyed by the murderous Nazi blitz in 1940 on Rotterdam.


1665 was the year the Netherlands Marine Corp was formed so she would have been one of the first ships to carry these new, specialist troops. She was very ‘high tech’ for her time, De Zeven Provinciën sported all the latest ideas, very early versions of stunsails, & reefing points. Safety aloft was still a matter of individual skill & luck, sailors did not ‘clip on’ & the security of foot ropes waited for a future generation to invent. Her upper decks were fitted with canvas awnings to protect her crew from the elements & conceal them in battle. Her coat of arms was 2 red lions either side of a central gold on blue surrounded by a coats of arms of the De Zeven Provinciën – of seven provinces. The lowest coat of arms was of the Rotterdam Admiralty.

Paint work was a greenish blue (turquoise) with carving painted in imitation of gold.


The new replica is well worth a visit & even incomplete will become some thing very special.


The Royal Netherlands Navy continues to use the name Zeven Provinciën. The new ship being the first unit of the class (De Zeven Provinciën) was launched 08 April 2000.

Royal Schelde are building four De Zeven Provinciën Class guided missile carrying fast frigates for the Royal Netherlands Navy. The Air Defence and Command (LCF) frigates are being built at Royal Schelde’s Flushing shipyard.


You can order your copy of this beautiful painting using Paypal from page http://www.frickers.co.uk/prints.html 

or send a cheque to our Plymnouth address on the contact us page  http://www.frickers.co.uk/contact.html

For further reading see Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia – Zeven Provinciën.