The career of Jan van de Linde
Brief overview of Jan van de Linde's placements on board
Hr.Ms. Submarine O24, Walrus (1) and Zeeleeuw (1).
By Jan van de Linde.
For additional photos and information please check the 'related pages' list at the bottom of this page.
January '48 through May '49.
After I obtained my commission in the rank of "Cadet 1st Class", I was placed, together with a number of fellow former cadets, in the Submarine Service (OZD) in Rotterdam and got trained to be a submarine sailor at a fast rate. This was no picnic. The majority of officers and petty officers responsible for our training had fought on board submarines in WWII and knew that one could only get a successful boat through utter precision and team spirit.
O 24 on the river Tay, returning to Dundee after a war patrol.
Once on board the O 24 (renowned at the time), the training continued vigorously, and low-ranking officers were only allowed to go on shore leave once they knew the boat through and through. ("There is a male rat in the front ballast tanks and he wants to reach a female rat in the diving tank. How does he get there and what does he pass along the way?").
Next the boat was sent on a trip to the West Indies. Apart from being the junior OOD I was given the jobs 'Supply Officer' and 'Private Secretary to the CO', two tasks for which we had had no training at all at the Naval College. This turned out to be very valuable in the rest of my career.
An 'expansive' way of thinking prevailed at the OZD at the time and it was assumed that a number of submarine groups would be formed under 'group' or 'squadron' commanders. Enthusiasts were asked to specialize in torpedoes, among other things, so I applied to be given that opportunity. I got the one year long torpedo course and became a 'torpedo officer'. The OZD, however, had to abandon its plans and I got placed on board surface ships instead.
January '53 through May '53: Hr.Ms. Walrus (1).
Under the MDAP (Mutual Defense Assistance Program) statute the Royal Netherlands Navy was given two submarines from the U.S. Navy, so-called 'Guppies' (for Greater Underwater Power), which were converted Fleet types. We traveled with the entire crew to New York on the Holland America Line. The designated commanding officer, Ltz. I C.E. Wolderling had gone ahead and was already at the Submarine Base in New London.
Having arrived in New York, we became acquainted with the 'friendly' Immigration and Custom Officers who had discovered an error in Ltz. I van Nieuwenhuizen's papers and refused him entry into the U.S. This was highly peculiar at the very least, as this man had been designated commanding officer of the second boat, the Zeeleeuw (1). A few quick telephone calls to Washington D.C., however, straightened things out.
During that same time period a Guppy was transferred to the Turkish Navy and based on that experience the U.S. Navy estimated that the transfer in our situation could take place in 6 months at the earliest. The Royal Netherlands Navy (K.M.) was informed of this, who consequently gave us three months' time, which was easy to accomplish without too much effort. My placement on board was motivated by my knowledge of torpedoes and torpedo tubes, knowledge that had to be used for the transfer procedure and for translating the U.S. Navy regulations into Dutch.
Two events from that period are worth mentioning.
The infamous 'disaster night' took place that winter, during which a strong northwesterly storm, accompanied by a spring tide, resulted in the flooding of a large part of the Netherlands. The sensational press in America, however, managed to blow this up into an image which gave the impression that nearly all of the Netherlands was under water. The crew of normally laconic Dutchmen nearly panicked and wanted to go home en masse. Only after the first direct wires from Dutch family members and loved ones arrived did calm return and everyone get back to work. The Dutch Embassy in Washington offered much appreciated assistance.
The U.S. Navy at the time still had the policy that 'Negroes' were only suitable to be cooks and stewards. The Americans did thus not readily accept Ltz. I Wolderling, who was of Indonesian descent and had the nickname 'Brown' in the K.M. Nor did they readily accept that he was the Royal Netherlands Navy's chosen commanding officer for the first MDAP boat. Only after the following incident took place did we get the impression that the Americans fully accepted him. Our attack team was put through rigorous training in the use of the attack equipment and American fire control. We were all considerably tense during the 'exam' in which a dummy torpedo had to be fired at the target. What's more, at first our attempts to prepare the torpedo for launch failed completely. We worked on this practically the entire night and only at the last moment did we manage to load the bastard into the tube. During the attack, the target zigzagged fiercely and only after quite some time did we figure out what scheme was being used by the target. We advised the commander as to the next change of course and time, but he deviated from this and we launched the torpedo in a direction that many of us judged to be incorrect. The torpedo however passed precisely below the middle of the target (as the middle one of a salvo of three) and the U.S. Navy was stupefied: the target had stopped zigzagging only a few minutes before!
May '60 through December '60: Hr.Ms. Zeeleeuw (1).
From 1953 until early 1960 I attended a number of post graduate courses which resulted in my receiving the Royal Netherlands Navy qualification for 'Weapons Engineering' and 'Nuclear Power'. I became secretary of the 'Study Group for Nuclear Power' and later a member of the 'Nuclear Power Working Group'.
Together with a number of employees from the 'Assessment and Design' department at the 'Netherlands Reactor Center' as well as representatives of the shipbuilding industry in the Netherlands we made a design for a nuclear submarine to be built in the Netherlands.
Towards the end of this process, in which the necessary training of crews was examined, I was placed on board the Zeeleeuw (1), in order to once again get the hang of sailing with a submarine. The CO, Ltz. I van de Griendt, was fully informed of the reasons why this 'old sailor' was put on board of his boat. He gave me all the necessary assistance and put himself and me in charge of the two divisional watches during NATO exercises.
A small working group had been sent to the U.S. to obtain the help of the Americans. This group was cross-examined closely by the U.S. Navy, the ASAEC and the State Department. We 'passed' this exam and returned to the Netherlands very proud of ourselves. A new Dutch government, however, rejected the entire plan, and the construction of nuclear submarines did not take place.
So after about half a year I was out of submarines again. At the time this whole process seemed a tremendous loss of time and energy, but in the end it turned out that it was a very valuable experience for the Dutch navy. The high sophistication needed for nuclear power is of the same quality as is needed for modern naval warfare, and the education and training of career naval officers and petty officers was improved as a result.
related pages Walrus (1) class specifications O 21 class specifications. Walrus (1) boat history Zeeleeuw (1) boat history O 24 boat history Walrus (1) class photos O 21 class photos Zeeleeuw (1) photos Zeeleeuw (1) 1969 photos Zeeleeuw (1) 1967-1969 photos The career of submariner Jan van de Linde related books 1953-1971 Twee Guppy's Twee maal twee levens.
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