Mysterious Shipwreck Identified: A Fallen Warship After a Fierce Battle

This article covers the identification of the Klein Hollandia, a Dutch warship that sank after a 1672 surprise attack.


2/1/20232 min read


In 2019, off the coast of Sussex, England, a sunken ship was discovered. Over the past few years, many nautical archeologists and scientists have been working to identify the mysterious wreckage. Finally, they determined that the ship is the Klein Hollandia, a Dutch warship owned by the Admiralty of Rotterdam. The Klein Hollandia was involved in many/all of the major battles during the second Anglo-Dutch war.

The Battles

During its time in use, the Klein Hollandia was a ship in Admiral de Haese’s squadron, used to escort the Smyrna fleet sailing from the Mediterranean to the English Channel. As the ship was moving towards the Netherlands, the fleet was attacked by an English squadron, commanded by Admiral Holmes.

On the 23rd of March, 1672, an intense battle occurred between the two squadrons. The Klein Hollandia was severely damaged. Further, the commander of the ship, Jan Van Nes was killed in action. The ship was boarded by the English, but the effort didn’t last long because it sank with multiple crew members, both English and Dutch, on board. The efforts of English admirals Sir Robert Holmes and Sir Frecheville Holles ended up sparking the Third Anglo-Dutch War.

The Ship's Discovery

Back in 2015, a hydrographic survey was conducted on the ocean floor. Then, the wreckage was classified as an anomaly on the seabed. Unbeknownst to the surveyors, the Klein Hollandia was patiently waiting for its story to be discovered. In 2019, a local diver by the name of David Ronnan discovered the wreckage and confirmed its existence. Since then, there have been 282 dives to the site of the wreckage, forming a clear picture of what was resting on the seabed.

Identifying the Wreckage

When the ship was first discovered, it was almost impossible to tell where it came from. However, in 2020, all the clues seen by divers and the data collected pointed to its Dutch origins. Using stone slabs found within the sunken ship and historical records, archaeologists were able to determine that it was the Klein Hollandia. Inside, there was a wooden hull, multiple cannons, and Italian marble tiles and pottery. The Italian goods would have been used to build high-status Dutch homes.


The ocean holds the deepest and darkest secrets of our world. On its floor, we can unlock countless artifacts from the past, telling stories we’ve never heard before and shedding new light on historical scenes. Hopefully, scientists will find more and more elusive artifacts on our oceans’ floors.


"Klein Hollandia". Nautical Archaeology Society, 2023, Accessed 1 Feb 2023.

"Mysterious Shipwreck Identified As Dutch Warship That Sank After Surprise Attack In 1672". Cbsnews.Com, 2023, Accessed 1 Feb 2023.

"Scientists And Archaeologists Confirm Identity Of 17Th-Century Dutch Warship Off The Coast Of England Carrying Slabs Of Fine Italian Marble | Historic England". Historicengland.Org.Uk, 2023, Accessed 1 Feb 2023.