In the 1930s there was an increased awareness in the Netherlands about the threat which the Imperial Japanese Navy posed to the Dutch East Indies. To face this, the Koninklijke Marine embarked on a major naval expansion program in 1932, which included building two new light cruisers as replacements for the aging Java-class cruisers. The design was an improvement of the earlier HNLMS De Ruyter and both ships were laid down in 1939. The first was named Kijkduin, later changed to Eendracht, and the second one received the name De Zeven Provinciën, hence the name of the class.
However, construction was interrupted by the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands on May 10th, 1940. The Germans continued work on De Zeven Provinciën which was more advanced than its twin; it was renamed KH2 and modified by fitting an Atlantik Bow. Work progressed very slowly as the dockyards' capacity was used for other purposes and sabotage by the Dutch resistance affected progress. On December 24th, 1944, KH2 was launched for use as a blockship in the Nieuwe Waterweg of Rotterdam but this action was never carried out.
After the end of World War II, construction resumed on both ships to a modified design which incorporated the lessons of the war. Armament was modified from two triple and two twin Bofors 152/53 mm guns, six twin 40 mm AA and two triple 533 mm torpedo tubes to four twin Bofors 152/53 mm guns, four twin Bofors 57/60 mm guns and eight single Bofors 40/70 mm guns. An improved propulsion plant was fitted as well as a second funnel and advanced electronics. Names were also changed with Eendracht becoming De Zeven Provinciën and the former De Zeven Provinciën being renamed De Ruyter. Both ships were finally commissioned by the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1953.
- Type: Light Cruiser
- Service Period: 1953-1975
- Length: 615 feet (187.45 meters)
- Beam: 56 feet 7.2 inches (17.25 meters)
- Draught: 22 feet 1 inch (6.73 meters)
- Draft: 38 feet 2.65 inches (11.65 meters)
- Displacement: 8,663 (Standard); 10,886 tons (Full Load)
- Crew: 926
- Propulsion: 4 x Werkspoor-Yarrow three-drum boilers, 2 x De Schelde Parsons geared steam turbines, 2 x shafts, 85,000 shp (63,750 kW)
- Range: 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 kilometers) at 12 knots (22.22 km/h)
- Speed: 32 knots (59.26 km/h)
- 8 x Bofors 152mm/53-caliber naval guns (4x2)
- 8 x Bofors 57mm/60-caliber naval guns (4x2)
- 6 x Bofors 40mm/70-caliber anti-aircraft guns (3x2)
- Belt: 3-inches (76.2 mm)
- Turrets: 2 - 5-inches (50.8-127 mm)
- Conning Tower: 5-inches (127 mm)
- HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (C801)
- HNLMS De Ruyter (C802)