History and museums
HNLMS Buffel is a 19th-century ironclad ram ship. She was one of the main attractions of the Maritime Museum Rotterdam, also known as the Prince Hendrik Museum, named after its founder, Prince Henry (Hendrik) "the Navigator", who had a naval career and established the basis of the museum back in 1874. In October 2013 the ship moved to Hellevoetsluis and is again open for public.
Built in 1868 by Robert Napier & Sons in Glasgow, Scotland, HNLMS Buffel was the first ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy without sails but with a steam engine and two propellers, that gave her a maximum speed of almost 13 knots (24 km/h). Her radius of action at 6 knots was about 2,150 nautical miles (4,000 km). Her main task as an armor-clad ram ship was to play a role in the Dutch coastal defense together with two sister ships and two so-called monitor ships.
Her armament was first of all the ram on her bow, mainly against wooden ships, and originally two 300 pound (136 kg), 23 cm Armstrong guns, with a total weight of 25 metric tons, in one turret. These were later replaced by a single 28 cm gun, and the armament was enhanced by a couple of smaller guns; 2 of 7.5 cm, 4 of 3.7 cm, and two Hotchkiss revolving cannons.
The crew consisted of 150 men, officers, petty-officers, and sailors.
Her record is not very impressive; the only ocean voyage was on her maiden trip in 1868 from Glasgow to Den Helder. That was not a great success; she rolled very much and also made a lot of water. From that day on she always stayed in the North Sea (in accordance with her role) and her only foreign port of call was Antwerp, Belgium in 1871.
She participated in many national exercises with the Royal Netherlands Army and in 1894 she retired from active duty. This was followed by a short, two-year period as a training ship for young sailors and from 1896 she acted as a lodging or accommodation ship. She was berthed in several naval establishments in the Netherlands, the last 25 years mainly in Amsterdam. She had the (NATO) pennant number A 884 on her bow, A for Auxiliary and 8 as the first cipher for all Royal Netherlands naval ships.
In 1973 the Buffel was decommissioned and in 1974 sold to the city of Rotterdam to be modified into a museum ship. From 1979 open for visitors
The ship has been shifted to Hellevoetsluis in 2013 due to cost cuttings. October 5 2013 the Buffel arrived in Hellevoetsluis and was moored temporarily in the brickwork Dry Dock Jan Blanken. As from 7 febr 2015 she now has her final berthing place at the Koningskade 2, in Het Groote Dock in Hellevoetsluis. Here a Naval quarter has been developed. Poisitioned here are: the Buffel, the Bernisse an old minesweeper, and the Noord Hinder a former Lightship on the North Sea. Together with the brickwork Dry Dock (Jan Blanken) it will form a nice historical area.
The ship is now exploited by Stchting Museumschip de Buffel