Greek Line - TSMS Lakonia

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Author, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer and Maritime Lecturer

Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed well over 700 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information they are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure!

“Memories of the JVO”

 m.s. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

Chapter Ten

The Conclusion

Netherland Line Post Card of the JVO in Amsterdam

It is so hard to believe that a ship that is so greatly loved by so many people from many nations, English, American’s, Canadian’s, Australian and New Zealanders, and not to forget the people of the Netherlands, she became the tragic ship the Greek cruise ship, Lakonia that still lies at the bottom of the sea, resting at a depth of one thousand two hundred fathoms. Strangely enough she sank very close the place where her sister ship the Marnix van St Aldegonde was torpedoed and consequently sunk during the war.

The burning and the sinking of Lakonia shocked the maritime world and it quickly prompted brand new stringent regulations to be imposed on all passenger liners. This process of upgrading became known in due course as the "Safety Of Life At Sea" or “SOLAS Regulations,” and it has continued right up to the most recent changes. Due to the introduction of the new and comprehensive SOLAS regulations, most of the classic ships have been taken out of service. One of these was another much loved and admired passenger liner, P&O's SS Canberra, SS Norway, being ex SS France and many other famous liners. Although some have been saved and are operating as fine luxury hotels, such as the famed SS Rotterdam of Holland America Line and she is at her homeport in Rotterdam the Netherlands!



Left & Right: With the author about to depart on his Christmas

And New Year cruise to Australia on the JVO departing

Wellington on December 20, 1961 and sailing via Auckland

Melbourne & Sydney and then home to Wellington arriving on January 3.



 I recall that in 1963, a colourful Greek Line brochure was published and it promised a holiday on the Lakonia that would be remembered and talked about “For the rest of your life.” There is no doubt that this final cruise certainly would not be a voyage that could ever be forgotten, for it will be remembered for many reasons and all of them are bad for it was a voyage that caused the death of too many innocents due to a fire that could have been easily prevented, and it was so small, but with a crew so poorly trained, it simply got out of control and the ship was destroyed due to sheer stupidity!

As a popular Dutch liner, the MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the much-loved “JVO,” was a most welcome visitor to Australia and New Zealand on many occasions. But for her very short career as the Lakonia, she did give her passengers the best possible vacations on board. Thus be it the “JVO” or the Lakonia, she will be remembered and spoken about for many years to come, for this passenger liner of yesteryear has earned a significant place in modern maritime history. All that have sailed on JVO prior to becoming the Lakonia will always remember her as a magnificent liner and cruise ship that provided them with a lifetime of wonderful and happy memories. She was not just a beautiful ship, but without a doubt the “JVO” was always a happy ship. That traditional Dutch charm, warmth and hospitality that awaited everyone had a great deal to do with it. The Captain would always come and walk around the ship and mingle with his passengers and in the evening, he and his senior officers would attend the various events, and he would be seen heartily laughing out loud and play certain deck games with the guests. These men were very normal, nothing like so many of their British counterparts, who were usually somewhat stuck up! And it was due to all this that the “JVO,” the "Johan van Oldenbarnevelt" became like our very own, a little piece of The Netherlands in the Southern Hemisphere. These days, the only way to travel the Dutch Way in the 21st.century, is to cruise on one of the 5 Star luxurious “Holland America Line” ships that cruise the world, as well having a ship based in Australia during the summer month such as the ms Volendam and the Oosterdam which are based in Sydney and cruise to New Zealand and the Pacific. In addition the ms Amsterdam and the ms Rotterdam also call into New Zealand and Australia during their world voyages.

Thousands, including the author continue to have wonderful Memories of the JVO for she will live in our hearts forever!

Reuben Goossens.


This work is dedicated to the memory of 98 passengers and 30 crew; A total of 128 precious lives that were sadly lost on those two fateful days, 22 and 23 December 1963. Also, to all who have sailed on the wonderful liner MS JVO - Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and just for a few months in 1963 when she was the TSMS Lakonia.

Some of the Author’s Mementos of the JVO










-Right: This Souvenir Pendant was included during my cruise, with the menu at the Captains Diner party.


-Left: Two brass Letter openers are housed in solid timber housing. The medallion reads m.s. Johan van

Oldenbarnevelt. The Netherlands Line House flag is in the center.




A menu cover from my 1961 cruise on the JVO, dated December 21



Above & below: An Ashtray with an anchor with a Netherland Line medallion



A delightful pewter JVO pin, they also had teaspoons with this at the top, but I was not into teaspoons

when I was young, now I have an entire selection from many ships, including the newer MS Oranje

One day I hope to get my hands on one of the JVO!


A beautiful JVO Wine Card cover


A rare 1959 flag menu


A 1930 Commemoration Johan van Oldenbarnevelt Platter recalling her completion in March 1930



Read the Tom Boelen Story

The night the JVO almost went down


Or the - JVO Index



“Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”


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