Page 40 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 meulen around 1780.18 The building and launching of large numbers of ships required an organizational talent which the directors have proved to possess. The well-oiled machinery, altogether enlarged in the middle of the eighteenth century, continued to work until the VOC's end - but then there seem to be more grounds for criticism of the directors' management: signs of rigidity appeared, hampering and arresting any renovation or adap- tation to new insights in for instance shipbuilding and navigation (see chapters 3 and 6). Moreover, after 1780 the financial difficulties of the V O C became so great, that the shipping business was no longer able to provide a sufficient and well armed shipping force - and the admiralties had to be called upon.1 9
Shipbuilding and repairs: the work in the shipyards
Once the building of ships had become well established in the mid-seventeenth century, the shipyards of the chambers were permanently in work. As shown in table 3 in the next chapter, the small chambers turned out roughly 30 ships over a period of fifty years. Although not always evenly spread, with a construction time of about eighteen months this meant that new ships were regularly put on the stocks. The Amsterdam and Zeeland chambers had facilities for building several large ships at a time - nevertheless the launching in Amsterdam of three large East Indiamen on one and the same day in 1783 was considered sufficiently unique to be recorded on an engraving.20
Next to the building of new ships, repair and maintenance formed an important part of the work. The ships had to stand rough treatment on their voyages to Asia and staying in tropical waters affected the woodwork badly. The value of the ships on return was considerably lower. In their budget for the launching of a fluyt of about 350 tons the directors assessed the value of such a ship at fl 29,000, whereas on return the value would have decreased by fl 7,380 through wear and tear. In 1730 the directors assessed the value of the ship KNAPPENHOF (2863), destined for China, at fl 83,000, yet after completion of the voyage it would realize no more than fl 60,196 in their estimate.21
Figures show that in the eighteenth century shipbuilding became more expensive. Around 1688 Hudde stated the value of a new ship of the first rate of 170 ft (around 1,200 tons) to be fl 98,200. This figure can be broken down as follows: hull fl 65,000, masts fl 3,500, sails fl 6,000, block and tackle fl 1,100, rigging fl 7,500, anchors fl 2,300 and guns fl 12,800. Ships of 150 ft length were assessed by Hudde at fl 69,900, ships of 130 ft at fl 48,400 and those of 100 ft at fl 21,700. Hudde collected these figures in order to calculate the total value of the VOC's shipping. He worked on the premise that in older ships masts and rigging were 2/3 worn, anchors and guns 2/3, while he guessed at the value of the hull. The 120 ships recorded in the Company's Navale Macht of 1688 represented, according to his calculations, a value of fl 2,722,200.22 A statement of around 1735 gives a higher value for comparable ships:23
18 ARA, coll. Hudde, no. 14, 22; Glamann, Dutch-Asiatic trade, 48 (for the 1636 example); De Korte, Dejaarlijksefinanciƫle verantwoording, 58 (the 1730 example); Steur,Herstelofondergang, 88-89 (Van der Oudermeulen). For the value of the ships see the next paragraph.
19 See Appendix V .
20 On July 2nd, 1783, the MEERMIN (4438), the BATAVIER (4447) and the DOGGERSBANK
(4435) were launched. See Katalogus Atlas van Stolk, no. 4458.
21 See note 18.
22 ARA,coll. Hudde, no. 14, 22.
23 A R A , Aanwinsten XXVI, 94, 1902, 48-49.

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