As with most countries around the world, the Netherlands has a rich naval history. The official name in Dutch is Koninklijke Marine, which means Royal Netherlands Navy. During a span of time in the 17th century the Dutch Navy was in fact the most powerful navy on the planet and played major roles in many conflicts involving the Dutch Republic.
Its actual history though dates all the way back to the 15th century. This incidentally was a period of time when many nations took to arming their ships as protection against pirates who were roaming the seas as well as vessels from many other nations. This original version of the Dutch Navy was granted rather sweeping powers in regards to attacking and in some instances capturing what were deemed as enemy ships as well as all the belongings on board.
However, the Navy did not really have a sound structure until the advent of the 70 year Dutch Revolt, during which time the Republic established a total of five admiralties. This certainly came in handy as the Dutch Republic was involved in several conflicts, the majority of them taking place at sea. The Dutch Navy’s primary objective was to keep shipping lanes safe throughout the world. And of course to also protect the Republic from a naval assault.
The Dutch Navy for a time was so powerful that as a result of soundly defeating the English Navy, France, England and a few other navies grouped together in an effort to invade the Netherlands and end the Dutch Navy’s reign as the world’s strongest. However the Dutch Navy still managed to prevail. This later led to the Treaty of Westminster, which for the most part ended the Anglo-Dutch wars, most of which were fought over trade.
For a time in the 18th century, the Dutch Republic was in decline, leading to a fourth war with England, the end result being that England’s Royal Navy wound up as the most powerful on the seas. When the Netherlands once again reclaimed independence in 1813, the Dutch Navy once again became a part of the armed forces of the Netherlands. In 1905 it was official named the Royal Netherlands Navy.
When the Netherlands was conquered by Germany in 1940 the Royal Netherlands Navy had to move its base of operations to Allied nations, with their headquarters being in London. Once the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed the majority of the Netherlands’ military focus shifted to the Air Force and Army units. But as you can well see, the Dutch Navy has a rather rich history and at one time was the premiere naval force in the world.