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From a shipyard near the Black Sea, this very “white” Holland-class offshore patrol ship came into the sixth boro a day or so ago.   A lot needs to be unpacked in that sentence, so here goes:

a Royal Netherlands Navy vessel identified as P842, third in a class of four which began with P840 (shown here in a 2016 tugster post) and named for the province(s) of Holland (a North Holland and a South Holland province exist), was built by a Damen shipyard on the Romanian Danube port city of Galați, Romania.  P842, named for the province of Friesland (see the banner on the gangway above), was delivered to the Royal Netherlands Navy almost exactly 10 years ago. I quote from the wikipedia article here:  she is “painted a new light blue-gray color, which supposedly has a better camouflage-effect than the standard light-grey paint used by other RNLN ships.”  Yes, there are many grades of “white.”

As to the stealth design, it reminds me of a French vessel that was in nearly the same location a warm April a dozen years ago. Other Dutch navy ships going back 14 years and including a submarine in the sixth boro can be seen here.  Other Damen-built vessels can be seen here.

I’m just conjecturing here, but based on the image of P840 in a link above, the ship color a decade ago was the same as that of the small boat here on the davit. 

To bring out that light blue-gray color, let me close with a slightly adjusted version of the top photo.  Maybe time for some new paint.

All photos, WVD.

Skimming through the information about Galați, Romania, and looking at the mouths of the Danube have given me a much more complex appreciation of the history and geography of the countries around even only this part of the Black Sea, a place very much in the news these days.   This might be an interesting river tour, although it does not go all the way to the Black Sea.  Maybe someone can tell if tours exist that continue from Bucharest to –say–Istanbul.

This post presents a mystery.  Maybe someone knows how (or through whom)  to find the answer, possibly in US Coast Guard archives.  A group of veterans who spent their time in the Dutch Navy serving aboard the vessel below want a reunion but have lost their ship, possibly to Davy “drug-smuggler” Jones.

Wamandai A870 was launched in the late 1950s from Den Helder.  From there she went to the Dutch New Guinea, where she worked with Wambrau A871.   When the Dutch left the colony to Indonesia in  1962, Wamandai and Wambrau returned to the Netherlands.     Wambrau then was Netherlands-based as Sea Driver II until she was sold to a private company in Toledo, OH!!  where she works as Josephine to this day.    Click here (and scroll through) for some fotos.

Wamandai remained in the Royal Navy and in 1964 traveled to the Netherlands Antilles.  As a navy auxiliary vessel, she worked there until January 1986, when she was decommissioned and sold to a resident of Curacao.

According to Sea of Grass:  The Maritime Drug War 1970–1990by Charles M. Fuss, Jr.,  she may have become a “mothership.”  Here’s a quote from pp. 226-7 that has an unsatisfying ending to me and to the Dutch Navy vets who called it to my attention:  “…The routine transportation of multi-ton loads of marijuana through the northern Atlantic ended in 1987.  The 90′ stateless motor vessel Wamandai with 22,000 pounds was one of the last motherships seized.  A Coast Guard C-130 from Elizabeth City, NC, found the suspect 105 miles southeast of Bermuda on 2 September, 1987.  A marathon air surveillance began that lasted until 5 September, when the cutter Gallatin (WHEC-721) finally arrived after being released from a navy exercise.  This was definitely one for the Airedales. ”  The next paragraphs switch to the 1987 drug interdiction campaign in the Pacific.

The question is:  What happened to Wamandai?  Would it have been scuttled then and there, or is there a chance that it was sold either as scrap or vessel?


Previous mention of motherships on this blog dates back to this post from 2008.   For recent fotos of Gallatin in the sixth boro after Sandy, click here.

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