Most frigates were assembled in squadrons at Harwich and in Scotland, leaving the London area to be protected by only a small number of active ships, most of them prizes taken earlier in the war from the Dutch.
As a further measure of economy, on 24 March the Duke of York had ordered the discharge of most of the crews of the prize vessels, leaving only three guard ships at the Medway; in compensation the crew of one of them, the frigate Unity (the first ship to be captured from the Dutch in 1665, from the privateer Cornelis Evertsen the Youngest) was raised from forty to sixty; also the number of fireships was increased from one to three.
Based on these assumptions De Witt thought it best to end the war quickly with a clear victory, thereby ensuring a more advantageous settlement for the Dutch Republic.
Most Dutch flag officers had strong doubts about the feasibility of such a daring attack, fearing the treacherous shoals in the Thames estuary, but they obeyed orders nevertheless.
This plan will be reviewed regularly and updated as needed.
Sir William Coventry declared that a Dutch landing near London was very unlikely; at most the Dutch, to bolster their morale, would launch a token attack at some medium-sized and exposed target like Harwich, which place therefore had been strongly fortified in the spring.The next day it transpired however that most officers were in for a bit of adventure; they had just given their professional opinion for the record so they could blame the politicians should the whole enterprise end in disaster.That day an attempt was made to capture a fleet of twenty English merchantmen seen higher up the Thames in the direction of London, but this failed as these fled to the west, beyond Gravesend. No serious preparations had been made for such an eventuality, although there had been ample warning from the extensive English spy network.Baron Van Ghent was in fact the real commander of the expedition and had done all the operational planning, as he had been the former commander of the Dutch Marine Corps, the first in history to be specialised in amphibious operations, that now was headed by the Englishman Colonel Thomas Dolman.On 6 June a fog bank was blown away and revealed the Dutch task force, sailing into the mouth of the Thames.The Library is governed by a board of six elected Trustees.