Netherland Line MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, sold to become the 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

MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

Chapter Three

1946 to 1959

The Johan van Oldenbarnevelt seen in Amsterdam in May 1948

The m.s. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt having returned home in February 13, 1946 from being a full scale troop ship. The question begs, was it true that her days as a troop ship had in fact concluded now she had returned home? The sad fact was that it had not, for now it was the Netherland’s that found itself with its very own ever growing problem in the East Indies, what would become known as Indonesia. There was unrest amongst the some of the natives, even though the country had great wealth at large and massive industries had grown there and big viable cities had been built and many of the local people did very well and were happy, but there was that Muslim faction that decided they wanted an independent state and commenced a war against the Dutch which became most vicious against anyone that stood against them, including their own people. Thus Holland had to send in their troops to assist their own Dutch citizen’s as well as countless of Indonesian nationals who were considered as Dutch and they themselves wanted to be considered as such and thus they were being hunted and slaughtered by the enemy.

In order to send in the troops and bring home to Holland as many repatriates as possible, the JVO received a rapid refit as well as restoring her lounges partially as well as refurbishing more of her Upper deck cabins and other improving her regular accommodations. In addition old troop quarters were transformed into dormitories, as well as other accommodations for large troop movements, etc. Many of her additional life rafts would remain on board, only her armaments had been removed as they were no longer required. But, parts of the ship were more than suitable for passenger use, and the rest were available to the troops.

She is seen departing Amsterdam in 1947 – note the life rafts along the aft deck

After her much-needed overhaul the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt returned to her what seemed like her old Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies service. She departed Amsterdam on her first voyage on June 15, 1946, bound for the Dutch East Indies where she arrived in. She departed full of Dutch soldiers all of whom disembarked in the Dutch East Indies, but for her return voyage took on board 1,980 repatriates and arrived back in Amsterdam on August 23. Many of the repatriates were ill and required medical assistance onboard, but upon arrival in Amsterdam some were taken to hospital. Illnesses had occurred mostly due to the situation having deteriorated in Indonesia due the violent actions by protesting Indonesians fighting for independence that had turned so ugly, especially for the locals!

On her first voyage as shown above, whish is officially listed as Voyage number 1; She was under the command of Captain J. B. Roeterink and departed Amsterdam on 16 June, 1946 sailing via Southampton June 17 to 19, Port Said June 28, Suez July 1, Batavia July 17 to 25. Return voyage via Suez, Port Said, arrive back in Amsterdam August 23.

Obviously that passenger numbers to that region were close to non-existent due the ongoing violence there, thus the JVO would be used mostly during this third period of her life to carry Dutch troops, both there and some back home, as well as countless Dutch families that had lived there be they of Indonesian origin or of Dutch origins, for according to the Dutch, they are all treated as Dutch equals.

She made two further voyages and after Voyage 3 she returned to Amsterdam on April 6, 1947. Once she had unloaded all her passengers, she headed for the NDSM shipyards where a little work was undertaken, but moreso a good paintjob was urgently required, for she still looked like that war ship all risty and with paint falling off her! When completed, she looked like a brand new ship in her company colours, a gleaming white superstructure and the standard grey gull with red boot topping (below water and just above meeting the grey hull line).


Pieter Willem Goldhoorn sails on the

Johan van Oldenbarnevelt to the Netherlands East Indies

But now we come to and exciting part of our story and this relates to JVO’s Voyage number 4. It is in regard a Dutch soldier who sailed on her in May 1947 from Amsterdam to Indonesia and I am sure that you will find this more personal story interesting, but his personal photographs, besides being rare provide a picture of those days of life at sea, etc. They were provided to the author by his son.

A photograph of the late Pieter Willem Goldhoorn whilst in service in Indonesia

Photograph provided by & Harry Goldhoorn

Some time back I received a most welcome email from Mr. Harry Goldhoorn who wrote:

“My dad departed Amsterdam on May 8, 1947 for the Dutch East Indies on the much loved liner the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt for the “Royal Netherlands East Indies Army” or the “KNIL” operations. Your website gave some interesting information regarding the departure of the ship from the Java wharf in Amsterdam. That was a piece of information I could not find in my Father’s photo album, but I discovered it via your website. My Father’s name was Pieter Willem Goldhoorn who sadly passed away on April 11, 2008. Recently I have been busy digitizing and publishing his old photo’s which he made during his voyage. You are welcome to use these on the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt page.”

For interest, “KNIL” stands for “Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger” or theRoyal Netherlands East Indies Army” that was a section of the Army that operated the former colony of the Netherlands East Indies (also known as the Dutch East Indies) that later became known as Indonesia.

I am most grateful to Mr. Harry Goldhoorn for writing and providing these wonderful photographs and I trust that this short story with the accompanying photographs will do both Harry and his late Father, Mr. Pieter Willem Goldhoorn justice!

Reuben Goossens.

Voyage number 4:

m.s. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt had returned to the Java Kade having been freshly painted and all cleaned up and she looked simply perfect ready for her next voyage. She looked spic and span, just like a full fledged First Class deluxe Liner should look like, but, she was far from being just that, for she may have looked it externally, but internally she was still just a troopship!

For this next voyage number 4, it was more than obvious for there was not one person who was about to sail on her that arrived shipside in a limo, a luxury car or were chauffeur driven, but instead they came in a stream of troop lorries, or an officer arriving in a jeep!

Prior to boarding, there was ample time for soldiers to go and pose at the ships bow for a quick photograph, for let’s face it, this was going to be quite an adventure, for most had never been on a long ocean voyage on one of the countries famed liners in their lives and may not go on another ever again, well they would have to come homewards on a ship, but many would came home in much less finer conditions than that of the JVO, for there were many Victory ships in operations and their condition were known to be woeful and worse still the terrible food that was served, at least on the JVO the food was of a very high standard, which was something that had so often been written about!

JVO is seen here on the Java Kade on May 8, 1947 ready for departure

Notes: The forward gun pits were no longer in use, and they were removed in 1948

Whereas the life raft containers were removed in 1949, it was a work in progress

From the author’s collection

Soldier Pieter Goldhoorn boarded the JVO with all of his colleagues and soon made himself familiar with the ship that he would be home for the next few weeks, then as departure approached almost everyone made for the outer decks for the military band was ashore and had commenced to play some stirring music as the ship was about to sail. Then came the time that Captain G. A. Mann slowly moved the ship from the Java Kade into the River and head her towards the Locks at Ijmuiden and the open Sea on May 8, 1947.

The JVO sailed directly for Port Said arriving on May 18 and the next day she was at Suez. She then headed for the East Indies and arrived at the first port being Sabang on June 1, Belawan the next day, Palembang June 3 and she then headed to Batavia (Jakarta, I assume at the port of Tandjung Priok) arriving on June 5. She also visited Surabaya and Semarang (no dates available) and returned to Batavia (Jakarta) and departed from there on June 11 going homeward.

Obviously, soldiers disembarked at various ports, between Sabang and Batavia. Also on board there was one of the Royal Military Music Corps and they disembarked at Sabang.

The JVO seen at Belawan on June 2, 1947 bound for Batavia (Jakarta)

Her return voyage departed Batavia in Indonesia on June 12, as she headed first for Singapore arriving on June 16, next came Colombo (Ceylon) June 21, through the Suez Canal July 1, Port Said the next day and the JVO sailed directly to her home port arriving in Amsterdam on July 12, 1947.

Mr. Goldhoorn’s Photo Album


With captions by his son, Harry Goldhoorn

Please Note: All photographs on this page, except for those marked otherwise, were taken by Mr. Pieter Willem Goldhoorn and are under Copyright protection by Mr. Harry Goldhoorn. These photographs MUST NOT BE COPIED BY ANY MEDIA without prior permission requested from the owner. See email ssMaritime details at the bottom of this page.

A photo of the ship with a note by my Father ….

“As a memory to my departure to East India (Indonesia) – “

Note: This photo is from an earlier departure as that is obvious from her paintwork – The author



Above and below: Boarding time of the Dutch soldiers in Amsterdam




Just as the Johan was ready to depart the military band was there to play some rousing departure music


Friends on deck: Names Top left & Clockwise: Dopma, Goldhoorn, Beunk, Reitsema, Spaans, Beusink & ?



Above & below: m.s. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt seen at Sabang on June 1, 1947, Java Island, Indonesia

Today the region is known as is known as Aceh


Coming Home by Ship

“My Father’s return voyage was on April 1, 1950 when he departed Tandjong Priok (the port of Jakarta) on the American ship, the U.S.S. General C.H. Muir (AP-142).

USS General C.H. Muir seen in 1950

From the author’s collection

“She passed Jebel and Falcon Islands on April 17, and made a short call at the port of Suez at the entrance of the Canal. She then sailed through the Suez Canal on the 18th. The last port of call was Motril Spain (close to the mountains of Sierra Nevada) on April 20 and she arrived in the Netherlands on the 24th.bringing my Father home from his duties abroad.”


From the previous voyage, number 4, the JVO continued sailing to Indonesia for another eight voyages, up to and including voyage 12, that had just the military on board to Indonesia and homeward she had repatriates as well as soldiers who had completed their service there. The Johan van Oldenbarnevelt arrived back in Amsterdam on September 1, 1949 and her days would slowly begin to change back to what used to be normal, well almost!

The JVO seen at full speed ahead at sea during one of her latter troop sailings

Finally Back to Passenger Services!

Voyage number 13 was JVO’s lucky number, for it became the very first voyage since the commencement of the war that she would carry actual passengers, in fact there would be a special passenger train put on to bring then to Amsterdam which pulled up, and some 540 were ready to board the spruced up JVO for their voyage to the East Indies, that now seemed to have settled down. She was certainly not a full ship, but she was a passenger ship for the very first time and they would have a wonderful time as they all travelled First Class.

The Johan departed Amsterdam under the command of Captain H. A. Broere on October 1, and she sailed to Lisbon October 6, Gibraltar the next day, Port Said October 12, Suez the next day, Sabang October 25, Belawan the next day, Batavia October 29, Semarang October 31, Surabaya November 9 to 11, Batavia November 11.

With her passengers having disembarked at various ports and in Indonesia, for the return voyage she was once again packed to the brim with returning soldiers and repatriates. Departing Batavia November 11, Suez November 25, Port Said November 27, Gibraltar December 2, and she arrived home in Amsterdam on December 6, her first partial passenger voyage was over! However, this continued for the next two voyages, number 14 and 15.

But in the mid 1950s the political climate in Indonesia had changed so much that the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was required on new and more lucrative services, although she would still return on various occasions to Indonesia during the 50’s to carry thousands of Dutch citizens back to the Netherlands from there due to the ongoing situation as well as countless Indonesians preferred the better lifestyle that was available to them in Holland, and they knew that they were treated as equals! Thus she began to operate a migrant service, first one to South Africa and then to Australia.

Voyage number 16 was again under the command of Captain Broere and she would sail in a one class configuration as she was packed with German and Dutch immigrants bound for South Africa. She departed Amsterdam on June 7, 1950 sailing via Las Palmas, Walvis Bay, to Cape Town 25 to 27 June. When all her passengers had disembarked, she departed on June 27 and headed for Indo nesia where she called on Surabaya, Semarang and arrived at Jakarta on 20 July where she took on board repatriates and Dutch servicemen ready to come home. She departed Jakarta on July 21 and sailed via Suez, Port Said directly to Amsterdam arriving on August 8.

Australia Bound!

Voyage number 17 was very special indeed for it meant that the JVO would finally return to Australia and this would be a voyage that would make her a popular a regular visitor to Australia for the next twelve and a half years. Although she had visited both Australia previously, but only as a Troop Ship, but this time she would arrive as a genuine passenger liner filled with migrants!

Here we see the days when labels were still the norm!

The wharf was filled with excitement as her passengers were checking in and awaiting to board the JVO, as they did and were shown to their cabins, they settled in and soon began to explore this fine ship and all her beautiful lounges, and finally they ventured out on deck as the ship was ready to depart, and the was band playing shore side.

It was September 6, 1950, as the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt departed Amsterdam for this exciting voyage from the Netherlands to Australia. She made a rapid voyage to Port Said arriving on September 15, the transiting the Suez Canal the next day with a very brief stop at Suez that day and continued to Aden arriving on September 19.

She is seen at anchor at Aden bound for Australia

From Aden it was south across the Indian Ocean direct to Western Australia to the port city of Fremantle close to the city of Perth, arriving on October 2. She departed the next day and from there she sailed around the bottom of Australia and the Great Southern Sea, being a part of the ocean that can often be extremely rough indeed! She headed east and arrived in Melbourne Victoria on October 9, and departing the next day for her last Australian leg northward to Australia’s largest city, Sydney where she arrived on October 14, 1950.

However, upon arrival it turned out there were quite a few liners in that day, thus the JVO, like all ships having to receive clearance, thus she had to wait at anchor in Sydney Harbour and await her turn! As soon she was cleared she was permitted to head for her allotted berth.

The JVO is seen heading for her Sydney berth on October 14, 1950

Once she had offloaded all the migrants in Australia she departed Sydney on October 14, and headed northward for Indonesia, where she would pick up further service men as well as civilians who would come to the Netherlands to make their home there. Her first port of call was Makassar arriving on October 23, Jakarta October 30, Belawan November 2, and Sabang the next day. The JVO then heaved via Colombo, Aden, the Suez Canal, Port Said direct to Amsterdam arriving on November 25.

It is interesting to note that one of the Three Dutch “Victory” Ships the SS Waterman joined the JVO in convoy on November 30 in Jakarta and sailed with her all the way home to Amsterdam!

SS Zuiderkruis an identical sister to the SS Waterman

These were radically rebuilt later into much improved migrant ships

Her next two voyages numbers 18 and 19 were much of the same visiting Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney Australia and then up to Indonesia to collect more soldiers and repatriates, etc and transports then to Holland in comfort!

The JVO is at Anchor in Sydney harbour awaiting clearance in May 1951

This was Voyage number 19 being her last visit in this guise

But the time had come that the JVO was in need of a genuine refit and make her a true and a full scale passenger liner as she was prior to the war, for to date she was still just the most basic migrant ship as well as a troop and a repatriates transport ship.

Finally in July 1952 the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was withdrawn service and see her enter the Amsterdam Dry-dock where her original builders would give her an extensive refit for her new life.

The JVO is seen in the Prins Hendrik dry dock on August 23, 191 still undergoing her massive refit

Required was metal work, as well as attention to the engine room and generators, electric wiring, plumbing and deck repairs, considering there were still signs of war damage. Apart from all that, there was so much internal work and we have not even looked at the passenger side as yet, for that would be most extensive. All cabins would be completely refurbished with brand new closets; furnishings, bedding, floors covering, wash basins and taps. Also the ship was being fitted with a very efficient forced air ventilation cooling system. Many of the large dormitories were converted into cabins and became brand new 4, 6 and 8 berth cabins. Her lounges were beautifully restored as was the furnishings with as much of the original retained as possible, but not all was possible, and some new had to be obtained, but it was kept as much as possible in keeping with the style of the ship, but also it had to be functional. Her original First Class Loungers, except for some changes in furnishings, looked as grand as they did before and very few actual changes were made.

A fine new looking JVO appeared in January 1952


The refurbished forward dining Room, previously being the First Class restaurant

However, the former Second Class Smoking Room that had that beautiful glass octagon ceiling was removed prior to the war, thus now it was already a standard ceiling and the Music Salon were now collectively renamed as the Palissander Lounge, even though there was separation between these two rooms, but it had been opened up, and now it was only the stairwell that remained in the centre.

The ex Tourist Class Smoking Room, now the Palissander Lounge

Additional eight double-banked lifeboats were added on the fore part of boat deck. Now at 19,787 GRT she accommodated 1,414 passengers in a one-class configuration. Her lounges were restored to their original state with laundries and iron rooms added to her passenger facilities.

As the standard of cabins on Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was not that of her running mate, being the newer Oranje (famed for serving as a hospital ship for the Australian Navy during the war), her fares were also slightly less, but food and service remained of the same high standard that the Netherland Line was so famed for. Trails were run on the 8th and 9th of January 1952. 

She departed Amsterdam for Australia on Wednesday 23 January 1952, being a voyage with a troublesome start as a series of fires were discovered on board. The first being whilst she was berthed in Antwerp with another just off the Isle of Wight. She returned to Amsterdam where a further two fires were extinguished. Obviously, arson was suspected, and when she finally departed again, she carried a number of Dutch Maritime police, but, no further incidents occurred and no arrests were ever made.

Go to Chapter 4 - A New Lease of Life


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