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Did you know? HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen evaded Japanese bombers in WWII by disguising itself as an island

To escape detection by Japanese aircraft (which the minesweeper did not have the armament to defend effectively against), the ship was heavily camouflaged with jungle foliage, giving the impression of a small island.

Abraham Crijnssen at the Dutch Navy Museum in Den Helder in 2011

HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen was a Jan van Amstel-class minesweeper of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN).

Built during the 1930s, she was based in the Netherlands East Indies when Japan attacked at the end of 1941.

Close-up of the foliage used to camouflage the superstructure of the ship

Close-up of the foliage used to camouflage the superstructure of the ship

To escape detection by Japanese aircraft (which the minesweeper did not have the armament to defend effectively against), the ship was heavily camouflaged with jungle foliage, giving the impression of a small island.

Personnel cut down trees and branches from nearby islands, and arranged the cuttings to form a jungle canopy covering as much of the ship as possible. Any hull still exposed was painted to resemble rocks and cliffs.

To further the illusion, the ship would remain close to shore, anchored and immobile during daylight, and only sail at night.

She headed for Fremantle, Western Australia, where she arrived on 20 March 1942; Abraham Crijnssen was the last vessel to successfully escape Java, and the only ship of her class in the region to survive.

The ship was removed from the Navy List in 1960. After leaving service, Abraham Crijnssen was donated to the Sea Cadet Corps (Zeekadetkorps Nederland) for training purposes. In 1995, Abraham Crijnssen was marked for preservation by the Dutch Navy Museum at Den Helder.

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