Mine sweeper escapes camouflaged as a tropical island

With the death of the last living crew member Fulco Bouwmeester (101), one of the most famous episodes in the history of the Royal Netherlands Navy became definitive history; that of the Hr. Ms Abraham Crijnssen. This mine sweeper managed to escape from the Japanese occupiers from the port of Surabaya as camouflaged as an island.

The commander of Hr. Ms Abraham Crijnssen, LTZ 1 A. van Miert, started preparations for an escape attempt. On his order, the 57-meter-long and 460-tonne ship was painted with different colors of paint so that distorting effects occurred. Moreover, he had the ship thoroughly camouflaged with nets, branches and leaves so that it looked like a tropical island from the sky and from the sea. During an all hands, the commander announced that the crew had the choice to stay on board and to take the risky escape attempt or disembark. About half of the 45-man crew decided to disembark, including all indigenous people.

It was a risky operation as this ‘island’ was not on any sea chart but they were successful in reaching Australian waters.