Three-masted tall ship razed to the ground in Amsterdam

Prins Willem, a replica of the 17th century flagship of the Dutch East India Company, was destroyed by fire on Thursday 30 July at Museumhaven Willemsoord in Den Helder, north Holland. Firefighters battled in vain to save the ship after the alarm was raised just after midnight.

The three-masted ship was built in Makkum, Friesland between 1985-86 and spent three years as the centrepiece of ‘Holland Village,’ part of a global exhibition in Nagasaki, Japan. She was sailed back in 2003 and has been moored in Den Helder ever since. She is owned by developer Dirk Lips and allegedly insured for ?3m.

The original Prins Willem was the largest ship ever built by the Dutch East India Company. She was launched in 1650 but foundered off Madagascar in 1665.

Herman Groenheide, director of the Museumhaven Willemsoord, was distraught at the loss of such a key tourist attraction. ‘The Prins Willem has attracted two times as many visitors [this year] as last year,’ he told the Noordhollands Dagblad.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo: Peter van Aalst/Berber van Beek/AP

Click below for video of the masts collapsing during the blaze.