HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81)

HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81) (Dutch: Hr.Ms. Karel Doorman (R81)) was a Colossus-class aircraft carrier of the Royal Netherlands Navy. Formerly the British ship HMS Venerable, she was sold to the Netherlands in 1948 as a light attack carrier. In 1960, she was involved in the decolonization conflict in Western New Guinea with Indonesia. In the mid 1960s the role was changed to anti-submarine warfare carrier and only ASW aircraft and helicopters were carried. An engine room fire took her out of service in 1968. She was sold to Argentina in 1969 and renamed ARA Veinticinco de Mayo.

Karel Doorman te Hoek van Holland, Bestanddeelnr 902-7787.jpg
HNLMS Karel Doorman
United Kingdom
NameHMS Venerable
Ordered7 August 1942
BuilderCammell Laird
Yard number1126
Laid down3 December 1942
Launched30 December 1943
Commissioned27 November 1944
DecommissionedApril 1947
IdentificationPennant number R63
FateSold to the Netherlands, 1 April 1948
NameHNLMS Karel Doorman
NamesakeKarel Doorman
Acquired1 April 1948
Commissioned28 May 1948
Decommissioned29 April 1968
  • 1955-1958
  • 1965-1966
FateSold to Argentina, 15 October 1968
NameARA Veinticinco de Mayo
NamesakeDate of the May Revolution
Acquired15 October 1968
Commissioned12 March 1969
Out of serviceInoperable by 1990
HomeportPuerto Belgrano Naval Base
FateProvided spare parts for Minas Gerais and remainder was scrapped in 2000
General characteristics
Class and type Colossus-class aircraft carrier
Displacement19,900 tons
Length192 m (629 ft 11 in)
Beam24.4 m (80 ft 1 in)
Draught7.5 m (24 ft 7 in)
  • 4 boilers with steam turbines
  • 2 shafts
  • 40,000 shp (30,000 kW)
Speed25 kn (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Armament12 x 40 mm AA guns


Built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead on 3 December 1942, Venerable was launched just over a year later and commissioned on 17 January 1945.

In 1948, Venerable's short career in the Royal Navy came to an end when she was sold to the Netherlands and recommissioned as HNLMS Karel Doorman, replacing a smaller Nairana-class escort carrier of the same name while in Dutch service.

In 1955-58 she was rebuilt with an 8° angled flight deck, new elevators, new island, 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, steam catapult, and all new aviation facilities and electronics were fitted, including a Dutch-built new radar. At the same time, a similar Dutch rebuild was done to her sister ship, the Brazilian aircraft carrier Minas Gerais.


Karel Doorman, frigate Johan Maurits van Nassau, and light cruiser Jacob van Heemskerck made a voyage to the Netherlands Antilles on 2 January 1950. Embarked on Karel Doorman was Prince Bernhard. The ships returned to the Netherlands on 4 May.[1]

In 1954, during a North American cruise, she visited Montreal, Quebec, Canada for an air show appearance.[2]

Early in 1959 the ship made a trip to the United States (Newport, Rhode Island and Fort Lauderdale, Florida) and then continued on to visit the Antilles again.

In 1960, during the Dutch decolonization and planned independence of Western New Guinea, a territory which was also claimed by Indonesia, Karel Doorman set sail along with two destroyers and a modified oil tanker to "show the flag". In order to avoid possible problems with Indonesia's ally Egypt at the Suez Canal, she instead sailed around the Horn of Africa. She arrived in Fremantle, Australia, where the local seamen's union went on strike in sympathy with Indonesia; the crew used the propeller thrust of aircraft chained down on deck to nudge the carrier into dock without tugs. In addition to her air wing, she was ferrying twelve Hawker Hunter fighters to bolster the local Dutch defence forces, which she delivered when she arrived at Hollandia, New Guinea. Karel Doorman was also to have visited Yokohama, Japan during this Asian cruise to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the establishment of Japanese-Dutch diplomatic relations but, due to Indonesian and local protests, Japan withdrew its invitation.[3]

After the 1964 refit, Karel Doorman served the rest of her career mostly conducting NATO anti-submarine patrols in the north Atlantic, no longer carrying strike or fighter aircraft as part of her regular air wing. Karel Doorman also regularly conducted various exercises near Scotland during her career.

Western New Guinea CrisisEdit

During the 1960 crisis, Indonesia prepared for a military action named Operation Trikora. For an invasion, the Indonesian Air Forces (TNI-AU) hoped to sink this aircraft carrier with Soviet-supplied Tupolev Tu-16KS-1 Badger naval bombers using AS-1 Kennel / KS-1 Kometa anti-ship missiles (six planes were intended for the attack on Karel Doorman). This bomber launched missile strike mission was cancelled because of the implementation of the ceasefire between Indonesia and the Netherlands; this led to a Dutch withdrawal and United Nations temporary peacekeeping administration followed by handover of Western New Guinea to Indonesia.[4]


In 1964, following the settlement of issues threatening its former colonial territories and changes in the mission for the Royal Netherlands Navy within NATO, coupled with the huge costs for operating and maintaining an aircraft carrier, it was decided to withdraw her from the operational fleet by the early 1970s. This was to coincide with the arrival of long range maritime patrol aircraft that were to take over the ASW role Karel Doorman had been tasked to perform ever since the start of the 1960s.

A boiler room fire on 26 April 1968 removed her from Dutch service.[5] To repair the fire damage, new boilers were transplanted from the incomplete HMS Leviathan. In 1969, it was decided that the costs for repairing the damage in relation to the relatively short time Karel Doorman was still to serve in the fleet proved to be her undoing and she was sold to the Argentine Navy, renamed Veinticinco de Mayo, where she would later play a role in the 1982 Falkland Islands Conflict.

In the late 1960s, the NATO anti-submarine commitment was taken over by a squadron of Westland Wasp helicopters operated from six Van Speijk-class anti-submarine frigates and two squadrons of shore based maritime patrol aircraft. These were one squadron of Breguet Atlantique sea-reconnaissance aircraft[6] and one of P-2 Neptunes.

Air wingEdit

First deploying as an attack carrier with 24 World War II era propeller driven Fairey Firefly strike fighters and Hawker Sea Fury fighters, for sea rescue a Supermarine Sea Otter flying boat was carried, it was replaced by a Sikorsky S-51 helicopter.[citation needed]

From 1958, she operated with an ASW/Strike profile with up to 14 Grumman TBF Avenger ASW/torpedo bombers, 10 Hawker Sea Hawk fighters (a first generation naval jet fighter considered by the larger naval powers to be undersized and nearly obsolete at the time of delivery to the Dutch) and 2 Sikorsky S-55 ASW helicopters.[citation needed]

In 1960, the Royal Netherlands Navy received 17 Canadian built Grumman S-2 Trackers ASW aircraft formerly used by the Royal Canadian Navy. Changing roles to a dedicated NATO antisubmarine warfare carrier, a wing of 8 Grumman S-2 Trackers and 6 Sikorsky S-58 ASW helicopters served aboard from 1961 until the 1968 shipboard fire and removal from Dutch service.[citation needed]

From 1959, Dutch Sea Hawks were equipped with Sidewinder missiles that significantly enhanced and extended their air-to-air combat capabilities. While never engaged in combat, the aircraft were present as a carrier based deterrent during the 1962 New Guinea Indonesia crisis.[7] They served aboard between 1957 and 1964 until Karel Doorman's overhaul, after which the attack role was eliminated and 22 aircraft were transferred to land based reserve storage - they were all retired from service by the end of the 1960s after the sale of Karel Doorman to Argentina.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Jacob van Heemskerck History".
  2. ^ "423 Squadron - Chapter 4".
  3. ^ "THE HIGH SEAS: Flying Dutchman". Time. 19 September 1960 – via
  4. ^ "Tu-16 Badger: The stealth from the Southern Hemisphere - Rubrik HISTORY". Archived from the original on 22 October 2008.
  5. ^ "World Aircraft Carriers List: Netherlands".
  6. ^ "MLD".
  7. ^ "Hawker Sea Hawk Mark 50".
  8. ^ "KDoorman".


  • W.H.E., van Amstel (1991). De schepen van de Koninklijke Marine vanaf 1945. Alkmaar: De Alk. ISBN 9060139976.
  • Brand, Bert (2005). Hr. Ms. Karel Doorman: vliegveld in zee. Emmen: Lanasta. ISBN 9086160018.
  • Geneste, Willem (1990). Verguisd en geprezen: Hr. Ms. Karel Doorman. Bergen: Bonneville. ISBN 9073304024.
  • Hoog, Arie (1991). De dikke boot: herinneringen aan Hr. Ms. Karel Doorman. Bergen: Bonneville. ISBN 9073304067.
  • Kop, H.J.E. van der (1982). Vliegkampschepen: geschiedenis en ontwikkeling van het vliegkampschip Hr. Ms. Karel Doorman in de Koninklijke Marine. Bussum: De Boer maritiem. ISBN 9022818551.
  • Kooger, Hans (1999). Het enige vliegkampschip van Nederland; de wereld van de carriers en herinneringen aan Hr. Ms. Karel Doorman. Berkel en Rodenrijs: Nederlandse Historiën.
  • Hellema, Duco (2005). De Karel Doorman In Nieuw-Guinea: Nederlands Machtsvertoon In De Oost. Amsterdam: Boom. ISBN 9789085061823.
  • Cats, Jacques (2014). Viermaal Karel Doorman. de Drvkkery Schrijverspodium. ISBN 9789081585644.
  • Slot, Rob Bruins (1 November 2005). "Karel Doorman" (in Dutch). Andere Tijden. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  • Karremann, Jaime (2 June 2014). "Karel Doorman vliegkampschip (1948)" (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 March 2018.

External linksEdit

  Media related to R81 Hr.Ms. Karel Doorman (ship, 1944) at Wikimedia Commons