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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author

 

(Kon. Java-China-Paketvaart Lijnen. N.V.)

M.S. Straat Banka

A magnificent painting of the MS Straat Banka by N.M Peeters of the Netherlands

This image bust not be copied for any media as it is © N.M Peeters 2011

 

Please Note: Photographs and other images are from the author’s private collection, unless otherwise noted!

In 1948 two beautifully designed Passenger Cargo ships were ordered for the company to operate on their extensive worldwide services. The first was the Straat Makassar, soon to be followed by her identical sister the Straat Banka.

Thus these fine ships would be completed in 1951 and 1952, the first being the MS Straat Makassar, which was renamed MS Tjinegara in 1956. The second the MS Straat Banka, the ship being the main feature, although the Straat Makassar’s details will also be covered.

The Dutch 9,138 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) passenger-cargo liner, the Royal Interocean Lines MS Straat Banka was built by the P. Smit Jr Shipyards in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 1952. In addition her mighty Engines were also constructed by this company and she had mighty Burmeister & Wain diesel engines.

Here we the engine close to completion and ready to the loaded into the ship

 

Here we see the MS Straat Makassar at her fit-out berth

Finally when all the work in the yard had been completed, she was made ready for launching, the day was set. Now on December 22, 1951 with dignitaries present this fine ship was officially launched and named Straat Banka and she slowly slipped down into the water.

 

Above and below: Here we see the launching of the Straat Banka, as the bottle of Champagne smashed against her hull

And below we see this fine ship slip down the slipway into the water for the very first time

 

The two ships were delivered as follows.

1: MS Straat Makassar was delivered to the “Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschaapij” on August 18, 1951 and she was placed on the India to Australia service. Departing from Bombay bound for Melbourne, sailing via Asia and the east coast of Australia, returning via the South and the West coast of Australia and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

When the MS Straat Banka was completed she undertook her extensive deep-sea trails, and from the photograph I have below, and as you will see she did this whilst her holds were completely empty, thus she was riding high in the water.

The new MS Straat Banka is seen during her Sea Trails

2: MS Straat Banka was delivered to her owners on May 16, 1952 and as soon she was stored up and fully manned, and commenced her scheduled voyages as follows;

Departing, Yokohama sailing via Nagoya, Kobe, Pusan (optional), Naha (optional), Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Swettenham, Penang, Mauritius, Lourenço Marques, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Rio Grande (optional), Montevideo and concluding at Buenos Aires. Her return voyage being: Buenos Aires, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador/Recife (optional), Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London (optional), Durban, Mauritius, Singapore, Manila (optional), Hong Kong, Kobe and Yokohama.

It would be later that their routes were changed and the Straat Banka would be placed on Bombay to Australia service, whilst the Tjinegara would take over the Straat Banka’s earlier service, being the Yokohama to Buenos Aires service, thus their schedules were completely reversed!

However, this feature does mostly cover the MS Straat Banka, but I will include the basic information of the Straat Makassar / Tjinegara as well.

Straat Banka was built with and attractive and a well balanced superstructure amidships and it accommodated just 48 First Class passengers in sheer comfort and many booked a voyage on her, as they were looking for an extended voyage looking forward to many exciting ports, filled with great adventure!

This is an early release postcard of the MS Straat Banka as she commenced her new duties

The beautifully streamlined Straat Banka was without a doubt a well-balanced ship, wherever she and her sister went, all who loved their ships would come dockside to take photographs of them!

She certainly offered the finest facilities in her passenger department, and the finest of her accommodations were two spacious Deluxe Staterooms located forward on B Deck with each having three large windows, two looking forward (sealed closed) and one larger one on the side of the ship that could be opened. The Deluxe Staterooms had twin beds, but these could be made up as a double bed, which was new idea for those days, the lounge area had four large comfortable fully upholstered chairs and two coffee tables. There were bedside tables and a desk with a mirror. There was a walk in wardrobe with a spacious bathroom with full bathtubs and an overhead shower and every possible facility! One of these Staterooms was located on the starboard side and the other on the port side.

The balance of cabins was equally divided between single and twin-bedded cabins, but each had private facilities with a shower, WC and basin, etc. However, in the hall there were a number of bathroom with bathtubs for those who preferred the bath! Every cabin had a large dressing table with drawers and two side cupboards, a large mirror and a stool as well as chairs and spacious wardrobes! In addition all cabins has a connecting door, thus they could be sold to families meaning a twin cabin could be sold with a single if a child was travelling for a family of three. Alternatively two twin bedded cabins could be sold together for four travelling together.

Amidships on B Deck was the Hairdresser and the Baggage Room, whilst the Pursers office was located forward next to the Main stairwell up to A Deck or Promenade Deck, the location of the delightful Lounge overlooking the bow, the Bar on the portside and a library on the starboard side with tables and chairs where passengers could comfortably read a book! Aft on A Deck was a well designed Dining Room seating all passengers in one sitting. Running along the side the Lounge forward was glass enclosed Promenade Deck and it was the perfect place to sit and relax to have a coffee and cake well out of the wind on a windy day! Far aft of the spacious Promenade Deck there was a spacious deck space for sports facilities. In addition, stairs up to Boat Deck there was the aft section of that deck, it commenced from just aft of the forward lifeboats and it gave additional space for sun baking that was the thin g to do in those days!

Photo Album

 

A starboard impression of the Straat Banka

Sent in by a supporter, but I was told it was created by a Mr. Bersma

Please see photo notes at the bottom of the page

 

1. Straat Banka’s Facilities

 

The cover of a 1952 Deck Plan

 

This is the cover of the RIL Passenger List handed to passengers onboard MS Straat Banka & Tjinegara

 

The Lounge forward on A Deck, looking to starboard

 

The Lounge and the main stairwell, looking to port

 

 

Above and below: Just aft of the Lounge, portside was the delightful bar 

 

 

Again aft of the Lounge, but starboard was the Library

 

 

Above & Below: Aft on A Deck was the delightful Dining Room with floor to ceiling windows

 

 

Here we see a beautiful menu from 1961 that opens like a door

 

Here we see the forward section of the port side of the B Deck passageway to the cabins - looking aft

 

The engine room

 

2. The Ship

 

Here we see her ready to load Circo (Circus) Brasil bound home for South America

 

MS Straat Banka glides into yet another port

 

Her Refit and being operated by Royal Interocean Lines

In 1961 she was refitted and passenger numbers decreased by 7 to 40 and a swimming pool was added aft on A Deck as can be seen on the Cabin Plan on Page Two.

Upon completion she would be operated by Royal Interocean Lines, which had their head offices in Hong Kong. As many will know there was a large fleet of ships in operation and the Straat Banka now commenced on her new service that saw her visiting the following ports; Bombay, Cochin/Alleppey, Colombo, Penang, Singapore, Djakarta, Brisbane, Sydney and concluding at Melbourne. Then she would return Via Adelaide, Fremantle (Perth), Java, Singapore, Malacca, Port Swettenham, Penang and returning to Bombay. Many Australians would join her in whichever city they lived in and do the entire voyage as an extended Circle Asia Cruise!

 The elegant looking Royal Interocean Lines MS Straat Banka

 

Aft on A Deck was the new Swimming Pool that was fitted in 1961

Photographer unknown – Please see photo notes at bottom of page

 

Straat Banka seen toward the end of her RIL days

 

Here is a rare view; the MS Straat Banka is seen forward and the Tjinegara aft in Sydney Australia

 Photographer unknown – Please see photo notes at bottom of page

With changes in the wind, the company had decided that they would sell the Straat Banka and thus on August 19, 1971 she was sold to Mercury Shipping Co based in Singapore who renamed her Mercury Lake. As she was in Sydney she had just disembarked all her passengers, and she sailed without any passenger’s non-stop for Singapore where she was to take on her new facade. Upon arrival she was placed at anchor and she soon received her name to her hull, but she had not as yet been reregistered, thus Amsterdam still remained until registration was completed. They commenced repainting her funnel yellow, in order to add the PIL logo on it.

Here we see the renamed Mercury Lake with a partial yellow funnel to add the PIL logo in the middle

Photographer unknown – Please see photo notes at bottom of page

Soon enough the company had her registered her in Liberia and she was ready to commence her services. It is from here, that sadly there is little to no actual information available on her, or the MS Tjinegara’s services with this company, it has been said by some that they were used as full time cargo ships only. However, that seen rather strange for PIL who were well known as a Passenger Cargo operator, and they had a reasonable second hand fleet of ships over the years that had passengers and some of these operated on the Singapore to Australia service! But, I am unable to locate any information, thus I assume they were used within Asia.

Seven years later this once fine passenger cargo liner, a ship that gave so much joy to countless of thousands of happy passengers, who enjoyed their voyages on this wonderful ship was sadly sold to Chinese ship breakers in 1978. Soon after the sale she sailed under her own power for Shanghai where she arrived on September 30, 1978 and she was soon broken up, at just 26 years young!

What Happened to the Tjinegara?

Here we see the delightful MS Tjinegara

Photographer unknown – Please see photo notes at bottom of page

In brief, the MS Tjinegara was also sold to Mercury Shipping Co, but in 1972 and she was renamed Mercury Bay and was also registered in Liberia did whatever her sister must have done, thus we simply do not know. In 1977 the same fate befell her for she was sold to Balmoral Maritime Inc, of Singapore and was renamed United Ensign, but they on-sold her to Pakistani Ship Breakers and on December 19, 1978 she arrived at Karachi and she was broken up at the Gadani breakers beach early in 1979.

And with the United Ensign, ex Mercury Bay, Tjinegara, built as the MS Straat Makassar and her sister MS Straat Banka came an end of two wonderfully designed and built Dutch luxury Classic Passenger Cargo Liners!

 

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SPECIFICATIONS: 1. Straat Makassar - 2. Straat Banka.

Please Note:         Straat Makassar was renamed Tjinegara in 1956.

Built by:                 Shipyard P. Smit Jr. Shipyard in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in; 1. 1951 – 2. 1952.

Hull #:                   1. 600 – 2. 601.

Call Sign:                1. PHTM - 2. PHTL.

Launched:               1. July 17, 1951.

.                            2. December 22, 1951.

Delivered:               1. August 18, 1951.

.                            2. May 16, 1952.

Tonnage:                1. 8,951 GRT, 6,279 Net tons, 9,535 Dead weight.

.                            2. 9.033 GRT, 6.631 Net tons, 9.436 Dead weight.

Length:                   143.78m – 472ft.

Width:                    19.39m – 64ft.

Draught:                 11.50m – 28.10ft.

Engines:                 Two x 9 cylinder Burmeister & Wain Diesel Engines by P. Smit - 740 x 1600.

Screws:                  One.

Speed:                   16 knots service speed, 17 knots maximum.

Passengers:             1. 40 – 2. 48 (as built).

.                            1. 44 (After refit & renaming as Tjinegara 1956)

.                            2. 40 (after 1961 refurbishment).

 

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To view a little life on this delightful ship

Enter this: Video of life on board the passenger-cargo ship MS Straat Banka in 1964.

 

Concluding Photographs of the Tjinegara & Straat Banka

 

The wonderful MS Tjinegara, originally built as the Straat Makassar in 1951

 

A wonderful photo of a fine classic Passenger-Cargo ship

 

 

Farewell Straat Banka, you were indeed a Good & Faithful Ship and Close to My Heart!

 

To view a little life on this delightful ship

Enter this: Video of life on board the passenger-cargo ship MS Straat Banka in 1964 

 

 View her 1952 & 1961 Deck Plans

 

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Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960

 

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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on www.ssmaritime.com only), in order that due credit may be given.

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