The VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or in English: Dutch East India Company) was the first multinational in the world, since it made the first shares. Founded in 1602, it had for almost 200 years the monopoly on the Dutch trade with the east. They brought wealth and prosperity to the Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden (Republic of the Seven United Netherlands). The 17th century is therefor called the 'Golden Age'. During this time, they controlled the largest and most powerfull fleet of the world, even beating the Brittish.
The fleet consisted of several ships, small and large. Some type of ships are: Spiegelretourschip (East Indiaman), fluit (fluyt), jacht (yacht), galjoot (galiot) and of course linieschip (ship-of-the-line). The ship-of-the-line is called this way, because they sailed in a straight line behind each other. The Brittish claim that admiral Robert Blake invented it, and the Dutch claim that admiral Michiel de Ruyter thought of it first. Anyway, this tactic was still used in the second World War. Because it took quite some time to reload a cannon, in the navy called a 'gun', the ship could easily move out of the way after a salvo, making place for a ship who was ready.
The Brittish had three classes of ship-of-the-lines:
Class 1: Three decks with in total 100 till 130 guns, and a crew of 850 till 900 men.
Class 2: Three decks with in total 80 till 100 guns, and a crew of 650 till 850 men.
Class 3: Two decks with in total 60 till 80 guns, and a crew of 450 till 750 men.
The Dutch rarely employed ships with three decks, due to the shallow waters of the Netherlands. Three decks with canons would be bring the ship too low in the water to sail it to the harbor. But this wasn't the only difference between the Dutch and Brittish ships. One major difference was that the decks of the Dutch ships were smaller then those of the Brittish. This was because the toll a ship had to pay was calculated due to the size of the upper deck. By minimizing that size, the Dutch had to pay less toll.
So, I wanted to create a Dutch VOC ship-of-the-line. Since the Dutch almost never used a ship with three decks with canons, it would become automatically a class 3 ship. I also demanded that ship should be 'playable': I had to be able to get easy at all the decks, in all the chambers. In order to create the ship, I looked at two pictures: one was from the LEGO pirate ship 'Barracuda' and the other was from a model of the ship-of-the-line 'William Rex'. I choose these two on purpose.
First the Barracuda.It was a pirate ship, but well, I always wondered about that. Why would the pirates have the kick-ass large warship while the soldiers had the smaller sized one? Although both ships could mount an equal amount of canons at one side, I always wondered, untill I thought of the following: the pirates are actually Dutch! They were Dutch sailors with letters of marque. one famous Dutch admiral with a letter of marque is Piet Hein, who captured a Spanish silver fleet. When you just look at the gold-black colorsetting, you can easily conlude that the ship is Dutch. So I used thisship as an example.
The Barracuda was too small for the kind of ship I wanted, so I had to look for a good example. I knew that the Rijksmuseum had quite some models of old ships, so I searched their site till I found a ship-of-the-line with two decks, which I found appealing. This was the William Rex. When you see all the three ships next to eachother, as I did below, you notice that I used the colorsetting of the Barracuda and the setup of sails from the William Rex.
I had demanded from myself that it should be easy to get at every spot on the ship. Since there are two decks with canons, I had to find a way to get easily to the deck below. The solution to this problem was found by making the upper decks extendable. By removing the upper decks, you could easily access the deck below. In the picture below you see how those decks are removed, and all the other ways of opening it are also opnened. For clarity, the crew on the upper deck have red hats, while the crew on the deck below have blue ones.
One of the challenges for this ship, were the sails. They are made from cotton. I used the LEGO sails as example, but those were to small. So I designed larger ones, thirteen sails in total, and asked my mum if she could make them. I'm not that handy with cloth, and she has a lot of experience with it. Here you see a frontal view of the ship, along with some other views of the sails.
The back of the ship had to be looking great, and golden. This is why I choose the colorsetting from the barracuda. I just had to extend it. As you can see here, you can flip the back open, just like the Barracuda can. At the bottom is the munition depot, and above the captains quarters. Normally there should be another deck between those two, but in that case the castle would become too ridiculous high. So I skipped that deck.
Funny to note: You can see the license plate of the ship above. Of course that is not serious, but I think it is a funny addition.
The front normally has some kind of statue. The Barracuda had the upper body of a woman, but that would be too small for this ship. So I just builded something, and afterwards I noticed that it kind of looked like the head of a dog. I didn't do it on purpose, but it was a nice result :).
The ship is not historical correct, but is quite playable. The Barracuda uses three middle ship plate, the 'Orsdorp' seven. In total the ship is 1.2 meters long, 85 cm high and weighs approximately 2.5 kg. I used 3359 Lego bricks, including the sails, excluding the 42 minifigs. Since it was not feasable to have a crew of 450 minifigs, I went for almost 10 % of that. That was a lot better.
About those minifigs... Why did I use those 'French' soldiers? Well, because the Dutch soldiers from that time also had blue uniforms! For the admirals on board, I used the pirate captains black outfit. Why? Well, because those really look like the dress code for the Dutch high society in the 17th century. Just have a look at this painting from admiral Michiel de Ruyter.
I took the painting from wikipedia. As you can see, the resemlance is quite good. You even see it better when you take a look at Piet Hein:
You see? Black is the color and those pirate captains are really well clothed according to those standards. Another reason to suspect that the LEGO pirates were Dutch.
I hope you like this ship. I do :). Mounted with in total 32 guns, 42 crew members, three masts, a kitchen, captain's quarters and munition depot and 13 sails, this is a small sized class 3 ship-of-the-line. I called it 'Osdorp' because that name hasn't been taken yet and I live in this part of Amsterdam called Osdorp.
Some words of thanks:
I'd like to thank a few people. Of course my mother, for helping me out with the sails, but also Tom Reubzaet: not only for supplying me with quite some of the missing parts, but also the interest he showed during the building process. And also much thanks to you all, for giving me such good reviews. If you have any comments on the story, just post them: I'll try to incorporate them.
oke,mijn eerste commentaar was ietsje overdreven,maar het is erg gaaf,en ik kan je vertellen dat alles klopt van wat je hebt opgeschreven. ik kan het weten,want ik hield mijn spreekbeurt over de VOC. vette 10 gekregen!(niet opschepperig bedoeld,hoor)
piet hein was een kaper. :D
This is an absolutely beautiful ship. Your attention to detail is superb and the way you made it "playable" is outstanding! The background information is realy wonderful and tremedously impressed me. This is certainly a five star plus model! You've inspired me to try my hand at a sailing vessel for my next MOC.
I like it
May 24, 2008
Mooi schip mooi kleurgebruik. Goed uit modules opgebouwd, handig!
It's large, playable, and it looks good: absolute win there. I haven't seen many ships from this time on the MOCpages yet, but I hope you'll make more. PS: Die tactiek waar je het over hebt is natuurlijk uitgevonden door De Ruyter- anders had hij de Engelse vloot niet verslagen bij Chatham. Ik vind ook dat de gelijkenis tussen de piraat en zijn portret erg groot is, en het lijkt me niet onwaarschijnlijk dat het ook de inspiratiebron was. Een mooi schip, en je uitleg is ook goed.
You know, I love old sea stories like Master & Commander, & this man o' war is so remanicent to that time period! P.S. Please check out my (increadably ameture) Black Pearl P.P.S. Would you like to join the Brotherhood of the Crow?