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Last modified:
21 Nov 2003

First Dutch fleets to Asia

1595: One fleet sailed. Four ships started; three returned after visiting Java and Bali; the ship Amsterdam was deliberately set on fire near Bawean in eastern Java.

1598: Five fleets sailed.

Three of the 1598 fleets took the eastern route via the Cape of Good Hope:

 - Compagnie ten Haeff of Middelburg: three ships; one capsized near Dover; two returned after visiting Bantam.
 - Compagnie de Moucheron: two ships; both returned after visiting Aceh.
 - Oude Oost-Indische Compagnie (which had made the first voyage): eight ships, of which all returned - two after visiting Ambon and Ternate in 1599, two after visiting Banda in 1599, and the other four directly from Bantam.

Two of the 1598 fleets took the western route via the Strait of Magellan:

 - Rotterdamse or Magelhaanse Compagnie: five ships; only two arrived in Asia - the Liefde in April 1600 in Japan, and the Trouw in March 1601 in Tidore (taken by the Portuguese).
 - Fleet under Olivier van Noort: four ships; one was burnt near the Strait of Magellan, one arrived in Ternate in Feb 1601 and was sold there, two arrived in Manila in Dec 1599, of which one was captured and the other returned to the Netherlands (the first Dutch circumnavigation of the world).

From 1599, Dutch fleets or single ships sailed almost every year for Asia. In the first half of the 17th century, only two more fleets sailed via the Strait of Magellan (van Spilbergen 1614/1615 and Nassausche vloot 1623/1624)

In 1615/1616 two Dutch ships sailed to find an alternative to the Strait of Magellan, to break the VOC monopoly. One ship reached Ternate in Sept 1616: probably the first ship to round Cape Horn, and certainly the first documented.

Menno Leenstra

Bruijn, J. R. Gaastra, F. S. en Schoeffer, I. - Dutch Asiatic Shipping in the 17th and 18th centuries
Vol I : Introductory volume; RGP grote serie nr. 165; The Hague 1987,
Vol II : Outward bound voyages from the Netherlands to Asia and the Cape (1595-1794); RGP grote serie nr. 166; The Hague 1979
Vol III : Homeward-bound voyages from Asia and the Cape to the Netherlands (1597-1795) RGP grote serie nr. 167; The Hague 1979

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