voor de



[Ben Oostdam's
Years 1950-1952]


left: Assignment Card as crewmember of "Karel Doorman".

right: Page in my journal showing two of the 12(!) deckplans of the "Karel Doorman". (top): flightdeck, (bottom): gallerydeck)

text deals with: my last day on leave in Amsterdam (still sick with high fever due to smallpox-injection) and my train-trip to Rotterdam where I boarded the Doorman late at night and slept in a hammock.
Entry of 11/11/1950 states that I start to be a sailor and enjoying life, which I cannot say about the previous day...but to start at the beginning, we departed Thursday noon after inspection by Vice Admiral Willinghe and escorted by some seven airplanes, a.o. two Seafuries, one Firefly, two private sportplanes, one unknown model and the "Seaotter" which we ...(next page) once out at sea, hoisted aboard with enormous exertions.

We sailed at 16 knots, with our little escort vessel, "De Bitter", following faithfully, till we reached the infamous Gulf of Biscay on Friday night and had to slow down to 7 knots. At times, we heeled to 27 degrees, but our escort beat us at over 45 degrees, and everyone was seasick most of the time. My journal records in detail the various watches and responsibilities, and when not on watch we had such assignments as following specific wires, cables or pipes (all color-coded) and preparing for tests. We encountered a British escadron returning from Korea, including the "Vengeance", the sister ship of our "Karel Doorman" (which England donated to Holland and which we, in turn, were to donate to... Argentinia (remember the Falkland Islands War?).
We enjoyed sailing along te coast of Portugal and entered the Mediterranean across the Gibraltar "sill", excited about seeing the Rock of Gibraltar and the African city of Ceuta across the Straight.
On the 14th, we celebrated the 1,000th successful airplane landing, but right after that, a small crash alerted us to the dangers of these exciting 'exercises', when the tailhook of the plane has to catch on one of the 10 cables - or fly into one of the two "fences", or even worse...
We had a mere 8 Seafuries on board, as well as 13 Fireflies and one SeaOtter. Most of them were actively used while we sailed by Cape Bone and the island of Pantellaria and through the Straight of Sicily, where we met and signalled to several passing ships, including the Dutch passenger vessel "Willem Ruys", and the U.S. Aircraftcarrier "Coral Sea", with a measly 139 planes, including 100 jets..
On Friday morning Nov.17, we reached our first port, the spectacular "La Valetta" on the historic island of Malta.
(see right for a plan of the harbor and its occupants)

to continue to next page, cruise on the Aircraft Carrier "Karel Doorman" - 1950.
BLO fecit 25 VI 1998