Jan van Speyk, born in 1802, became an orphan at a very young age and was brought up in the Amsterdam City Orphanage. Although Jan Carel was a tailors apprentice first, he was drawn to the sea. Through self-study he managed to better himself and was appointed a mates apprentice in 1820.
In 1830 he was appointed commander of the HMS Gunboat nr 2. During the Belgian Revolution his ship was part of the Dutch Schelde Fleet. On the 5th of February 1831 during a storm on the river Schelde his ship went adrift and ended up on the lee-shore.
Van Speyk had sworn that his ship would never end up in the hands of the Belgian rebels. Only one option remained to him to fulfil this oath. He went down to the lower deck and lit a cigar. Very soon after the gunpowder ignited and the whole ship blew up with a loud bang.
Apart from some shipmates, who jumped overboard, all crew was killed. This great gesture caused a wave of enthusiasm throughout The Netherlands. The remains of Van Speyk were buried with military honours in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.
This sacrifice of Jan Carel van Speyk was greatly admired in the young Kingdom of the Netherlands. Therefore King William I declared on the 11th of February 1831 that a ship with the name Van Speyk would forever be part of the Royal Dutch Navy. The remains of the ship were cherished. The mast is still kept at the Royal Netherlands Naval College.
Until this day the naval cadets sing:
''The example given by Van Speyk is still followed with heart and hand''
Restaurant van Speyk accepts World Acceptance Card