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Maritime Image of the Day: “Wartime Camouflage”

PortandTerminal.com, January 10, 2020

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Today’s “Maritime Image of the Day” is a WW2 photo of the Royal Netherlands Navy warship HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen heavily camouflaged with foliage.

After the Dutch navy suffered major losses at the hands of the Japanese, the Crijnssen found itself alone and vulnerable in enemy-controlled waters. Safety was in Australia but to get there they first had to evade the Japanese Navy. The Dutch vessel was slow and there was no way they could make a run for it.

READ: What was Dazzle Camouflage and did it work?

The only option was to somehow sneak past the Japanese without being spotted. Camouflage was the only option. With their very survival at stake, the crew of the Crijnssen hatched a plan.

They camouflaged the warship to look like an island and step-by-step, sneaked past the Japanese right under their noses.

The plan wasn’t as nuts as first impressions make it out to be. The Java Sea around Malaysia and Indonesia is dotted with over 18,000 islands. And while Crijnssen wasn’t a large ship, the minesweeper was large enough to possibly be passed off as a tiny island.

Colourized photo of the warship hugging the shore next to an island.

The plan worked.  After a journey of eight difficult days, Crijnssen finally made it to the safety of Australian waters. By disguising the ship as a tropical island and lurking near the shoreline the wily Abraham Crijnssen managed to evade the Imperial Japanese Navy.

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