Ik nader ongezien

Title Ik nader ongezien - De onderzeeboten van de Koninklijke marine 1906 - 1996
Rating Good
Author P.C. Jalhay & Contact Mari-Team
Publisher De Bataafsche Leeuw, Amsterdam
Year first published 1997
Series -
Binding Hardcover
Content 192 pages, black & white, colour photographs, bibliography, index.

This book combines a brief description of the history of the submarine service (Onderzeedienst or OZD) with a listing of each submarine commissioned in the Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine or KM) between 1906-1996. Introductions by the officers serving as Commander-in-Chief of the KM and Commander OZD in 1996 are followed by the author's introduction. During the period under consideration, 62 submarines have been commissioned into the KM of which the majority served during the 1930s and 1940s. Each submarine class has a brief description of the technical considerations involved in the design process and mentions the yard that built the vessel. Essential data such as dimensions, displacement, propulsion, armament, crew size, etc are also provided. Each class has several photographs of its boats, sometimes including shots of a vessel under construction. Each submarine's individual entry includes construction and commissioning dates as well as a listing of the commanding officers when known. In a number of cases, no commanding officer is listed or the dates given for his command are estimates or overlap with the command of another officer. No ranks are given for these officers.

Many of the photographs used are not commonly found in books about the world wars, submarines in general, or the history of the KM. The photos often have detailed captions that include where and when the photograph was taken, and even the identities of the personnel in the view. Interspersed between the pages for individual submarines are brief accounts of important topics for the OZD including information about the submarine stations at Den Helder and Soerabaja, the gravity measurements conducted by Professor F.A. Vening Meinesz on board several submarines during the 1920s and 1930s, the voyage of the K-XVIII around the world in 1934, and the development of the submerged ventilation system known to the Dutch as the snuiver but more commonly known by its German name, schnorchel. For the several boats lost during World War II, longer descriptions of the circumstances of the sinking are provided. The wrecks of the O-22, O-16, and K-XVII, located in the 1990s, are also mentioned.

The book ends with a several page assessment of the future of submarines in the KM, mentioning the number and quality of Dutch submarines, Dutch shipbuilding capacity, and developments in submarine propulsion technology. The appendices include a list of casualties of the OZD, a list of commanders of the OZD, and a list of abbreviations used in the book. The casualty list gives the last name and first initial plus the rank/rate of men killed and/or missing in action. This includes the entire crews of several boats lost during World War II and individual sailors killed in accidents while ashore or washed overboard.

Ik nader ongezien! (I approach unseen) has many strengths and few weaknesses. The book is a short overview of the OZD with an emphasis on the submarines and key commanders. Photographs are numerous and of high quality. The data on each submarine's commanding officers indicates when the ship was brought into or out of service, helping to explain gaps in command that are most likely due to extended repair/refit periods. While this data is useful, it suffers from the presence of numerous typographical and layout mistakes so readers should use caution when seeking specific factual information. The book should also not be mistaken for a complete overview of the OZD, as it does not address submarine tactics, armament, and the numerous tenders and auxiliary vessels that supported the submarines.

Mark C. Jones, July 2004.

This review was first published on the website www.dutchsubmarines.com (no longer existent).

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