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Dutch shipyard rebuilds De Ruyter's man-of-war

No blueprints for 17th century vessel

Tags: Dutch Exploration

LELYSTAD, the Netherlands - Dutch artisans at the Batavia shipyard, located east of Amsterdam, are tackling their second 17th century ship building project. Completion date for the replica of the 'The Seven Provinces' is 2006. The original copy of this man-of-war served as flagship to Michiel de Ruyter, the legendary Dutch admiral, who took on the English navy of the mid seventeenth century, and beat them back several times. The ship's original took only two years to build.

Last summer, the Lelystad wharf finished construction of the 'Batavia,' a replica of a 17th century merchant ship. Under the tutelage of self-taught builder Willem Vos, a group of artisans and other enthusiasts worked ten years to build the ship. During this time, the wharf became a major tourist attraction, welcoming its 350,000th visitor last year. Revenue from admission fees largely pays for the wharf's work, first for the Batavia, and now for The Seven Provinces, which carries a price tag of an estimated 16 million guilders.

Maritime power

The Batavia was such a popular tourist attraction that a short absence from the wharf's berth drastically cut entrance fee revenue and into wharf's the budget. Plans to enter 'the Batavia' at major events - such as this year's Indo Sail in Jakarta - were scrapped and new endeavours to temporarily exhibit the ship elsewhere postponed for the next few years, until 'The Seven Provinces' has become a self-sustaining tourist draw.

'The Seven Provinces' will be 46 meters long and over 12 meters wide: as long but decidedly broader than 'the Batavia.' The ship was outfitted with eighty cannons and had a crew of 420. The original of 'the Seven Provinces' was built at Delfshaven (now part of Rotterdam, and its permanent historic maritime exhibit), and went on its maiden voyage in 1666. Within two months, the flagship successfully led the fleet in the Four Day Naval Battle, while the following year, 'the Seven Provinces' was part of the Dutch raiding party which destroyed the English fleet near Chatham on the Thames estuary. In 1692, 'the Seven Provinces' ended its long string of naval battles when its hull was breached by enemy fire. Two years later, the remains were dismantled.

Builder Vos and his shipwrights only rely on contemporary accounts, drawings and paintings of 'the Seven Provinces,' and on general information about 17th century shipbuilding techniques since no blueprints and drawings, nor construction plans were then used in the ship building industry.