As far as I know the Dutch legend, the Flying Dutchman was a ship sailing for the "Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie" (United East India Company), and so would never even have been near the Caribbean. The captain (Willem van der Decken) decided to leave port in Holland on Easter Sunday, even though working on a Christian holiday was considered a major sin.

As the journey continued, the weather got worse and worse to a point where the crew begged the captain to not try and round Cape of Good Hope, but return to Table Bay. The captain got so mad he threw the helmsman overboard and spoke the words 'God or the Devil, I'll sail around the Cape, even if this means I'll have to sail till judgment day'

When the Devil heard that, he cursed the ship and turned it into a ghost ship, with blood red sails, that can sail against the wind and is often seen 'floating' above the waves.

In Pirates of the Caribbean, Davy Jones is called captain of the Flying Dutchman, the ship is a mean to ferry the souls of the dead, gifted to him by Calypso. The only similarities I can find is that his ship can also sail against the wind.

Are there any reasons/sources explaining why the ship was called the Flying Dutchman if there are no similarities between the legends used to describe their fate?

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    I'd imagine because the only part of the original legend that is widely known is the "cursed ship sailing eternally" part. No-one knows about where it was or was headed.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 12:23
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    Also...it's a myth so there's that too. - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Dutchman
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 12:25
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    @Paulie_D I was hoping it was pretty clear that I'm fully aware the 'original' story is a legend ;-) As for the first part, the link to the English wikipedia article seems to indeed suggest 'the rest of the world' only knows a very small part of the myth :( Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 12:34
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    I say that Disney will do what is wants no matter what legends get in the way. That is kind of a boring backstory anyway. Enhancements were needed for the survival of the movie. I have a question of my own also. Why is the ship called the Flying DutchMAN?? Aren't ships always females. Shouldn't it be called the Flying DutchESS?? Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 2:28
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    @TurtleyAwesome Also, Dutchess doesn't mean anything. A woman from Holland is still a dutchman. Dutchess isn't a word, though it is homophonous with "duchess", the feminine version of "duke", but neither of those have anything to do with the Flying Dutchman. Commented May 29, 2018 at 14:07

3 Answers 3


"Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie" (United East India Company), and so would never even have been near the Caribbean.

That is incorrect. The original goal of the EITC was to sail to the Indies, but they quickly expanded their area of operations due to their vast success.

The East India Trading Company, otherwise referred to as the East India Company or abbreviated as EITC, was a British joint-stock company and megacorporation formed for pursuing and monopolizing trade with the Indian subcontinent and East Indies, and later expanded to China and the Caribbean.

Secondly, the first movie establishes that Jack Sparrow has run into the EITC before:

[Notices Jack's brand] "Had a brush with the East India Trading Company, did we, pirate?"
―Commodore James Norrington to Jack Sparrow

Even if the EITC hadn't branched out to the Caribbean yet, Jack Sparrow would still have had dealings with them abroad, thus suggesting that Jack could plausibly have interacted with the "real" Flying Dutchman.

But we know that the EITC was branching out to the Caribbean, since Lord Cutlers Beckett makes his first appearance in Dead Man's Chest as Chairman of the East India Trading Co.

Thirdly, I see no reason to focus solely on the Caribbean. The last movie of the trilogy specifically shows us that the Brethren's Court is an international collection of pirates.

Jack Sparrow, Hector Barbossa, and Elizabeth Swann (Sao Feng's successor), as well as Chinese Mistress Ching, Indian Sri Sumbhajee Angria, African Gentleman Jocard, Turkish Ammand the Corsair, Spanish Eduardo Villanueva, and French Capitaine Chevalle

In this international collection have the Carribbean, Singapore (Elizabeth is not Singaporean but Sao Feng was, and her crew still is), China, India, Africa, Turkey, Spain and France. Pretty much every globally significant empire (barring the British, which are arguably represented by Barbossa and Sparrow).

The EITC and by extension Davy Jones were a global problem, not just a Caribbean one.

In Pirates of the Caribbean, Davy Jones is called captain of the Flying Dutchman, the ship is a mean to ferry the souls of the dead, gifted to him by Calypso.

The first question that enters my mind: where did Calypso get the ship from?

Even if you follow its supernatural origin story, it's perfectly possible that the goddess of the sea was somehow involved, or at the very least capable of reappropriating the ship to Davy Jones' control.

Secondly, there is no mention of the "real" legend of the Flying Dutchman in the movie universe. It's perfectly possible that the fictional movie universe diverges from the real world in this regard.

  • Aren't you confusing the East India Trading Company (EITC, British) and the Dutch East India Company (VOC, Dutch) in your answer? The dutch one, which the flying dutchman would be part of according to the myth from the question, would indeed not be near the Caribbean since that was territory of the Dutch West India Company (WIC), which was seperate. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 7:08
  • @DennisvanGils: The movie mostly conflates the companies into one amalgamated villain. The only real distinction is played up in PoTC 4 (or was it 5) where Barbossa leverages the English/Spanish conflict.
    – Flater
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 16:47

Since the story is ongoing I'm not sure if the question is validated yet, because of several in universe related things and because of the kind of story it is.

  1. The first trilogy sets up a redemption story for Jack Sparrow by examining Jack and his relationship with Davy Jones, which results in Will becoming the Captain of the Flying Dutchman and being separated from Elizabeth. The later films then start to go further and further back into Jack's past. I had originally thought given the nature of role of Captain of the Flying Dutchman (Ferry the souls of the dead to the other side) that Philip, a young clergy boy who falls in love with a mermaid, would be the ideal set-up to replace Will and have Jack fix what he helped to break, but this doesn't exactly happen since the Trident is used the break Will's curse instead...
  2. However, this leads us to examine what we are left with at the end of Dead Men Tell No Tales, which is that seemingly Davy Jones has returned! If we go back to what we do know about The Flying Dutchman and it's Captain, then we may understand why this happened, because "The Dutchman must always have a Captain" mantra may exist outside of "curses" and therefor explains why it would revert back to it's previous Captain and the way he was before he died...(there could be more to this too, because we don't know if his soul was ferried to the other side or he resided in his own locker?)
  3. With all being said the truth is we don't actually know what the in-universe origins of The Flying Dutchman are and if Davy Jones is actually the FIRST Captain. We only know from legends and lore that Calypso gave the ship to him and tasked him ferrying the souls. (But where did she get it??) It's possible that one reason to bring Jones back into the story, besides better fulfilling Jack's redemption story possibly with OST characters, could also be about getting back to the origins of The Flying Dutchman and how exactly Davy Jones became it's Captain and/or if his job failure isn't as simple as a broken heart, if it could possibly relate to previous Captain(s). There could be more to the story than has been mentioned thus far given how old Calypso is and considering that AWE presents only the fourth Brethren Court, meaning that the first probably isn't that far away in history and The Flying Dutchman could be much older than that. The writers have an opportunity then to tie it closer to the real-life myth, should they want to...
  • It might also be worth mentioning that the first trilogy also was about Davy Jones and Jack's relationship with Lord Becket of the EITC. The EITC origins are a bunch of rival Dutch trading companies (VOC) before the joint stock with Britain began. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 18:27

What struck me about the movie (other than the bad impression it created - with me personally - because my girlfriend had the hots for the star, old whatshisname) was the idiot notion of naming the pirate captain Davey Jones.

Presumably, Disney thought that was a reference to the phrase "Davey Jones's locker", but he was sailing a ship called 'The Flying Dutchman', out of a Dutch legend. I don't believe in the concept that any Dutchman was ever named Jones -- unless his dad came from Cardiff, and had a bicycle! And, of course, none of the ship's crew seemed to speak Dutch -- if you want any evidence beyond the fact of Jones being a fairly Welsh-sounding name.

The bigger problem - for me - was that every time his name occurs in the picture, it kept reminding me of that guy who was the lead singer for the pop group The Monkeys. "Hey, hey! We're the Monkeys!"

Surely the bigger anachronism was that the Davey Jones in the legend is dead, and Johnny Depp was playing a character who wasn't! He wasn't dead, he wasn't Dutch, he wasn't Welsh. And he had a strong American accent -- even though the legend pre-dates the creation of the United States of America!

I think I got up in the middle (while my girlfriend was watching it avidly on tv, on the late late show) and made a cup of coffee. So I admit my attention wandered. But I don't seem to remember the ship doing all that much flying, either.

"The Not-flying-very-much-if-at-all Welshman" probably wouldn't have fitted on the movie's posters. So I think that may well be why - to answer the o/p's question - they went for a snappier name (both for the ship and the movie).

  • Davey Jones has a Welsh/Caribbean/pirate accent. It is not even close to an American accent (and no, this is not due to the actor - Bill Nighy is an Englishman). Furthermore, the question isn't "why is Davy Jones Willem van der Decken?", it's specifically asking why Davy Jones (a different person) was in control of a ship that was originally sailed by Willem van der Decken.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 10:45
  • @Flater : Oh, come on, be fair! My answer was (intentionally) in a somewhat humorous vein, admittedly, but the entire plot of the movie is comedy: Davy Jones, with his Welsh surname, captains a supposedly Dutch ship, that is loaded with pirates who can only speak English. A ship which in legend haunts the trade routes to India, not the Caribbean. And Johnny Depp wanders through the plot sporting an American accent that is quite out of place in a movie which is set in the days before the USA existed. This is comedy, not history. Not even history-as-legend.
    – Ed999
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 5:04
  • This was the quote I thought summed up the film, from the Wall Street Journal: "It’s a case study in a widening school of filmmaking where anything goes and nothing matters."
    – Ed999
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 5:13

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