Prompted by the Empire of Japan's rapid expansion across the Pacific during the 1930s, and fearing for its overseas holdings in that region of the world, the nation of the Netherlands initiated a new shipbuilding program in the latter part of the decade that resulted in the two-strong De Zeven Provincien-class of light cruisers. The cruiser as a warship remained en vogue during this period of naval history and all major naval powers fielded some form of the ship type into the Cold War years (1947-1991). The light classification merely indicated a lightened displacement and, in some cases, more compact size while retaining the armored belts and decks of their full-fledged armored cruiser cousins.
The two ships of the De Zeven Provincien-class became HNLMS De Zeven Provincien (C802) herself and sister-ship HNLMS De Ruyter (C801). The latter warship had her keel laid down on September 5th, 1939 by Wilton-Fijenoord of Schiedam just as World War 2 (1939-1945) opened with the German invasion of Poland on September 1st of that year. She was launched on December 19th, 1941 but the fall of the Netherlands in May of 1940 meant that De Ruyter was too late to take part in its defense - as such she was not to be commissioned until well after the war, this occurring on November 18th, 1953.
The class was used to succeed the old Tromp-class consisting of two "flotilla leader" surface ships and these appeared in the middle of the 1930s. The De Zeven Provincien-class was, itself, succeeded by the newer Tromp-class frigates that arrived in the mid-1970s.
As built, De Ruyter was given a displacement of 12,040 tonnes and held a running length of 614.5 feet, a beam of 56.5 feet, and a draught of 22 feet. Power was served from 4 x Werkspoor-Yarrow 3-drum boiler units feeding 2 x De Schelde Parsons geared-steam turbines developing 85,000 horsepower to 2 x Shafts under stern. Maximum speed in ideal conditions reached 32 knots and range was out to 8,100 miles.
Aboard was a crew of 973. Armor protection ranged from 3" at the belt to nearly 5" at the conning tower. Armament included 8 x 152mm turreted main guns, 8 x 57mm Anti-Aircraft (AA) autocannons, and 8 x 40mm AA guns.
All this led to a very conventional, no-nonsense warship with excellent speed and range and projectile-based ranged firepower.
HNLMS De Ruyter operated with the Royal Netherlands Navy service until decommissioned on October 16th, 1972. During this time, she actively partook in several NATO naval exercises with allies. She did not receive the RIM-2 "Terrier" surface-to-air missile (SAM) system modification that was given to her sister during the early-1960s simply for budgetary reasons. With her time in Dutch service ultimately complete, the warship was sold off to the Peruvian Navy where she became the "Almirante Grau" (detailed elsewhere on this site). Under this name and foreign naval banner, she served as the last "gun cruiser" in naval history until finally given up for good on September 26th, 2017. De Ruyter's sister, De Zeven Provincien, was scrapped in 2000.
In Peruvian Navy service, the Almirante Grau was the recipient of a broader modernization program handled by the Dutch (Amsterdam Naval Services) from 1985 to 1988. During this period, she took on more advanced weapons, systems, and sensors to keep her a viable frontline warship for the foreseeable future.