The Prins Willem was probably the largest ship with a square stern belong to the Dutch Company of the East Indies. Built at Middelburg during the years 1649-1650, under the direction of the carpenter Cornelis Speldernieuw, the Prins Willem set sail on her maiden voyage towards Batavia on the 5th May 1651, with a crew of 276 including 93 soldiers and 22 women and children. On her return home, the ship was temporarily loaned by the Company to the General States, which had entered into conflict with Great Britain. For her use as a battleship, in addition to the demolition of her forecastle and relative stern bulkhead, 6 guns were added to the battery below deck, by opening up 3 new portholes on each side of the bow in the area of the removed bridge. For a short period, the Prins Willem served as flagship to the famous Admiral Witte de Witt; in October 1652, it took part in the battle of Duins when it was considerably damaged.
Handed back later to the Company, the ship from 1653-1660 operated again on the commercial routes to the Indies; on the 23rd December 1661, the Prins Willem set sail from Batavia with some other ships heading for the Low Countries, commanded by Arnold de Vlaming Van Oudshorn, Governor of Ambon.
The small fleet never reached its destination: perhaps due to a violent storm, the ships were wrecked near the Saint Brandon Rocks, going down with all their cargo.
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