World Aircraft Carriers List: Netherlands

Revised 24 April 2000
Version 2.03
Compiled and Maintained by: Andrew Toppan
World Aircraft Carrier Lists Main Page:

Gadila Class merchant aircraft carriers

Karel Doorman (I) escort aircraft carrier
Karel Doorman (II) light fleet aircraft carrier
Dutch Aircraft Carriers Photo Feature

Gadila class (RN Rapana class) merchant aircraft carriers

Displacement: 16,000 tons full load
Dimensions: 463 x 59.5 x 34 feet/141.12 x 18.08 x 10.32 meters
Propulsion: Diesel, 1 shaft, 4,000 bhp, 12.75 knots
Crew: 118
Armor: none
Armament: 1 4 inch, 2 40 mm, 6 20 mm
Aircraft: 4

Concept/Program: Merchant aircraft carriers converted from tankers; identical to RN Rapana class and operated under RN control, but crewed by Dutch merchant crews. The Merchant Aircraft Carriers (MACs) were an emergency measure to provide air support for convoys. They did not have pennant numbers, but did have two-letter flight deck codes assigned.

Design/Conversion: Very minimal conversion. Flight deck built over hull; no hangar. Retained cargo capabilities.

Departure from Service/Disposal: Returned to merchant service postwar.

Photos: [Gadila as converted].

Built by Howaldtswerke, Kiel. Laid down ??, launched 1 Dec 1934, completed as tanker 11 April 1935. Converted at Smith's Dock, UK, from 4/1943 to 1 February 1944.

Operated as a convoy escort late in the war. Taken out of service 30 May 1945 and returned to merchant service postwar. Scrapped at Hong Kong starting in 1958.

[Back To Top]

Photos: [Macoma as converted].

Built by Nederlandse Dok, Amsterdam. Laid down ??, launched 31 Dec 1935, completed as tanker 13 May 1936. Converted at Palmers SB late 1943 to 1 April 1944.

Operated as a convoy escort late in the war. Taken out of service 30 May 1945; returned to merchant service postwar. Scrapped at Hong Kong starting in 1958.

[Back To Top]

Karel Doorman (HMS Nairana class) escort aircraft carrier

Displacement: 17,210 tons full load
Dimensions: 524 x 68 x 25 feet/159.7 x 20.7 x 7.6 meters
Propulsion: Diesels, 2 shafts, 10,700 bhp, 16 knots
Crew: approx. 700
Armor: none
Armament: 2 4/45 DP, 4 quad 2 pound AA, 16 20 mm AA Aircraft: 18

Concept/Program: A former RN escort carrier transferred at the end of WWII. Served in the Dutch Navy only briefly before being returned to RN.

Departure from Service/Disposal: Replaced by new Karel Doorman (ex-RN light fleet carrier) in 1948 and returned to RN for disposal.

Karel Doorman
ex HMS Nairana, ex merchant
Photos: [HMS Nairana as converted], [Karel Doorman as commissioned].

Built by John Brown. Laid down ???, converted prior to completion, launched 20 May 1943, commissioned 26 November 1943. Operated as in a hunter-killer group and on Russia convoy runs. Loaned to the Netherlands as Karel Doorman (QH 1) in 1946; commissioned 23 March 1946.

Returned to RN 28 May 1948 and immediately sold into merchant service as Port Victor. Scrapped at Faslane starting 21 July 1971.

[Back To Top]

Karel Doorman (HMS Colussus class) light fleet aircraft carrier

Displacement: 19,900 tons full load
Dimensions: 630 x 80 x 24.5 feet/192 x 24.4 x 7.5 meters
Extreme Dimensions: 695 x 80 x 24.5 feet/211.8 x 24.4 x 7.5 meters
Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 40,000 shp, 25 knots
Crew: 1300
Armor: none
Armament: 34 40 mm AA
Aircraft: 24

Concept/Program: RN light fleet carrier transferred in 1948 as a replacement for the previous Karel Doorman. Was the main unit of the Dutch navy for 20 years, and the last Dutch carrier.

Modernization: Reconstructed 1955-58 with angled flight deck, new elevators, new island, new armament of 12 40 mm AA, new catapult, and all new aviation facilities and electronics were fitted. Reboilered 1965-66 with boilers from incomplete HMS Leviathan.

Operational: Initially a strike and fighter carrier, later an ASW/strike carrier, and finally an ASW-only ship.

Departure from Service/Disposal: Damaged by fire in 1968 and deemed not worth repairing.

Karel Doorman
ex-HMS Venerable R81
Photos: [HMS Venerable as completed], [HMS Venerable in service], [Karel Doorman as commissioned], [Rebuilt with angled deck], [As Argentine 25 de Mayo].

Built by Cammell Laird. Laid down 3 Dec 1942, launched 30 Dec 1943, commissioned 17 Jan 1945. RN designation changed to R63 circa 1945 for service in the Pacific; served in the Pacific immediately after WWII; returned to previous designation postwar. Decommissioned to reserve 30 March 1947. Sold to the Netherlands 1 April 1948; recommissioned 28 May 1948 as Karel Doorman (R81).

Initially operated strike and fighter aircraft. Reconstructed 1955-58 at Wilton Fijenoord; operated as combined ASW/strike carrier after reconstruction. Operated in ASW role only after the mid-1960's.

Damaged by boiler fire 26 April 1968 and deemed not worth repairing; placed in reserve pending disposal. Sold to Argentina 15 October 1968; refitted at Wilton Fijenoord with boilers and turbines from incomplete ex-sister HMS Leviathan. Commissioned as Veinticinco De Mayo 12 March 1969 but did not complete overhaul until 22 August 1969. Assigned designation V2 was not carried. Replaced former sister Independencia. Initially operated combined ASW and strike air wing.

Was in poor condition by the early 1980's; inoperable after 1985. A major refit, intended to include replacement of machinery with gas turbines, was started in 1988 but cancelled for economic reasons. Retained in nominal reserve through 1997. Towed away for scrapping at Alang, India, 1/1999.

[Back To Top]

The World Aircraft Carrier Lists
Compiled and Maintained by Andrew Toppan (
Copyright © 1995-2003 by Andrew Toppan
Reproduction, reuse or distribution without permission is prohibited