The Dutch Minesweeper That Disguised Itself As An Island

Grace Higgins | January 28th, 2019

Sometimes the crazy ideas may just work, and that was one of those moments in 1942 when a Dutch minesweeper was able to evade the enemy by disguising itself as an island. It was one of those crazy hail mary moments that if it works it works but if it goes wrong well then it would go terribly wrong.

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This was what happened when HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen escaped Japanese forces for 8 days when it found itself to be the last dutch ship standing after the Battle of Java Sea. The original plan was to escape to Australia with three other warships that had found themselves stranded. However, a minesweeper is a very slow moving vessel and for the most part, would have to make the journey unprotected. Furthermore, for the most part, they did not have much defense weapons at all which would mean they would be a sitting duck for any Japanese bomber planes.

That is when the crew had an amazing idea, the crew knew there only chance of survival was to make it to the Allies Down Under and as a result of the 45 strong crew members started to brainstorm. The solution? Turn the ship into a moving island, camouflaging with the surroundings at night. The idea was first met with reluctance, most of the crew thought it would never work.

But when you are limited to time and know the end is near, a desperate move seems ever so more tantalizing. So they went ahead and made the boat into an island, successfully hiding the Dutch warship from the enemy. They went ashore and cut down trees after trees, assembling it on the deck like a jungle camouflage. And they were not messing around at all after the trees were set up they painted on some rocks.

Of course, a mysterious island moving through the water would look a little obvious to the Axis forces. The crew made the decision to not move the vessel at all during the daytime and only turn the engine on during the night. The plan proved to be an amazing one after they evaded the Japanese forces for 8 whole days and reunited themselves with the Allies.

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