With Reuben Goossens
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 travel or cruise agencies, etc! Although having been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, I am now retired but having completed features on well over 700 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships, I trust these will continue to provide you the classic ship enthusiast the information you are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure!
This was the very first photograph that was officially released of the Company’s
new Liner Sibajak and she is seen here as built during her Deep Sea Trials
Motor Ship Sibajak’s History Page
The Motor Ship Sibajak’s History Page
By the Author of ssMaritime.com
Here we see the MS Sibajak after her having been refitted and note
that Sports Deck (topside forward) has moved somewhat aft!
As I commence, I wish to state that this is quite an extensive and a comprehensive and a very large page with many photographs. The reason for this is that I desired to add as much detail and history as possible regarding the MS Sibajak, a ship that I personally greatly love and admire for it was this “Grand Old Dame of the Sea” that was responsible for my decision to enter working in the Passenger Shipping Industry in 1960 and eventually becoming a Maritime Historian as well as a Cruise’n’Ship Reviewer as many of you will well know! I certainly trust that you will enjoy this, and the pages to follow.
I personally believe it is always good to look at the company’s background as well as the reason for them ordering of a particular new ship, etc?
Then, after the World War 2, “Rotterdam Lloyd” (RL) was granted the “Koninklijke” or the “Royal” honour to its name and thus it became “Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd” or in English, “Royal Rotterdam Lloyd” (RRL).
On June 1, 1923, the
Cargoes, Mail and Passengers would be safely
transported along the oceans of a good 9,200 nautical miles or 17.000
kilometres, along the ships regular schedules. The shipping company that was
prepared to take on the responsibility for such a major task was ensured of an
attractive financial contribution from the Dutch government as well as a
guaranteed supply of civil servants and military personnel for the passage to
and from the Dutch East Indies (known today as
In cooperation with the “Steamship Company Nederland” from Amsterdam, the Rotterdam Lloyd would take care of a weekly mail-service; One week there would be a departure from Rotterdam sailing via Marseilles, and then the other week there would be a sailing from Amsterdam sailing via Genoa and both would then head for Batavia and then return to the Netherlands (Holland).
In order to meet future demands of the
mail-contract, RL at the end of 1924 drew up a long-range plan that included a
trio of new large (for those days) passenger liners, which together with the
two-funnelled 11,406 GRT (Gross Registered Ton) MS Slamat entered into
service in April 1924. She was followed by the slightly smaller single funnel
10,772 GRT MS Indrapoera and
she departed on her maiden voyage on February 10, 1926, and these two ships
with the largest liner of the trio already on order would constitute a new and
a modern RL fleet for the mail-service to and from the
The Rotterdam Lloyd MS Slamat was the first of the trio, but the only one built with two funnels
The full trio of the Rotterdam Lloyd’s new liners would ultimately be complete with the completion of the M.S. Sibajak. However, she was followed by two much larger liners only several years later, the first being the 16,981 GRT MS Baloeran, which departed for her maiden voyage on April 15, 1930. The second of the pair was the 16,979 GRT MS Dempo that departed on her maiden voyage in March 1931.
Here we see the larger MS Dempo of 1931, identical sister of the Baloeran completed one year earlier
However it is important to note that it is the Sibajak that is covered in this special “M.S. Sibajak Feature” and although I am currently doing an extensive update on this feature, I am no longer writing on any further ships in the future, for I am so sorry, but for certain circumstances I was forced to retire!
May 27, 1925 the Rotterdam Lloyd gave the Royal Company “De
Schelde” (KMS) that they would require the Mail Ship
“Sibajak” to be built, which was confirmed on the 29th, when the
ship was officially commissioned. Then on November 18, the
“Sibajak-contract” was finally signed by the two directors of KMS
Seven days later one of the Directors for
Willem Ruys & Sons (RL) in
However, there was an alteration as noted as shown in Article 1 of the “Sibajak contract” was: De Schelde undertakes, for Rotterdam Lloyd to build a “Steel-Double Screw Engine Passenger Liner,” in regard to the interiors and equipment she should be similar to the M.S. “Indrapoera,” according to her principal dimensions, description and conditions, but including the additional work to be carried out. She would be at an agreed cost of f6.8 million Dutch Gulden.
There had been a long tradition of cooperation between RL and KMS, in fact since 1882 and during 65 years they had produced a long series of beautiful ships for which their style showed certain outward resemblances.
When commissioning to build the Sibajak, RL being very wise due to many decades of operational experience, gave special orders in relation to the construction of the ship that she was to have all the characteristics of a mail-ship, but to be suitable for the tropics. This meant that she had to have ample open and airy decks, with surfaces large enough for the numerous deckchairs as well as for vast promenades; elegant lounges with high ceilings and large windows in order to allow as much light and fresh air as possible. In addition, all cabins had to be located on the outside of the ship and the interior decoration was to be both stately and comfortable in order to make the long voyage as enjoyable as possible, but there were no particular concerns in relation to the ships speed.
In July 1926, RL decided that the interior
design of the Sibajak would be entrusted to the creative skills of the
well-known Mr. H.P. Mutters who would work together with the “Royal Dutch
But it was on Saturday March 13, 1926 De Schelde officially laid her keel of yard number 181. During the twelve months and three weeks that followed, the complicated building process took shape, resulting in the ship's hull with its intricate unity of frames, bulkheads, deck and the hull plates. Once the hull was closed, her deckhouses and other superstructures appeared up on the main deck.
Photograph’s during her Construction
As we look towards her aft, we can see that she is nearing completion
A fine view of her port side propeller
However here we see her stern and both her propellers as well as her rudder
on Saturday April 2, 1927 with the hull construction having progressed enough
the new RL Liner was ready to be launched. On that day with her hull, painted
in the stylish RL house colours of what is known as “Dove Grey” and
“White,” she looked simply splendid. Along the quays sides many
invited guests had gathered to witness the ever-spectacular moment of the
launching of such a large ship. For, in the eyes of the Dutch, a 530 feet long
Liner was a giant indeed! At the inauguration ceremony she was officially
christened by Mrs. T. Mees-Bouvin and named
“Sibajak” after the mountain “Sibajak,” one of the most
beautiful on the
The Sibajak’s is about to enter the water and here we see Mrs. T. Mees-Bouvin who has just cut loose
the bottle of champagne, as she had been given the great honour to officially name and launch the Lloyd’s Flagship!
Here we see the massive crowds watch as the Sibajak gently slips into the water
The Sibajak is seen here at “De Schelde” shipyards and her fit-out berth
After her launch, they moored Sibajak alongside the North quay of the yard basin, next to the imposing engineering works. Within, good progress had been made on the construction and assembly of the various motor-parts for the new ship. The Sibajak was provided with a pair of 8-cylinder Schelde-Sulzer diesel engines with a total capacity of 10,000 shaft-horsepower. Those would enable the vessel to a service speed of 17 knots. In the machine factory the parts of these engines were assembled into hulks of roughly 49 feet long, 33 feet high and 12 feet deep. They also provided the ship with three auxiliary units, which were likewise Schelde-Sulzer diesels with 5 cylinders; these were to drive three huge generators, which provided for the ship's electricity. Whilst in the ships interiors frantic work was at hand by many carpenters, painters, furniture makers and upholsterers, as well as plumbers and electricians completing the enormous work of realizing the various interior designs as well as the galley’s.
2, 1928 was nothing short of a horrid and a bleak day complete with a
snowstorm, yet the Sibajak sailed from
Here we see the Sibajak completing her deep-sea trials on January 12, 1928 note aft of the Bridge and officers cabins, as well as
the three windows for the covered first class promenade deck. This is relevant and will be covered in the deck-by-deck item!
On Saturday January 28, 1928 the MS Sibajak was officially transferred by the shipyard to the Rotterdam Lloyd but this was done by the means of special trial voyage with invited passengers.
The Sibajak is seen here on her Special trial Voyage on January 28, 1928
This voyage would test the working systems of the ships chef’s, galley staff and service in the Dining Room as well in the lounges and in the cabins, etc. The passengers list was obviously a who’s who of the travel and shipping industry, and the ship certainly received rave reviews after her short voyage.
The cover for the Passenger List for the special January 28 Trail mini-voyage
Now the completed MS Sibajak, the brand new
flagship of the Rotterdam Lloyd headed for
On Sunday February 8, 1928 with the Sibajak being under the command of Captain W. J. Boon was ready for her big day. Passengers had slowly gathered and boarded whilst relatives and friends waited ashore to see the ship sail and wave them goodbye as the band played, for a ships departure was such an emotional affair!
The Sibajak departed
However, towards Tangiers the Sibajak suffered a most severe storm that gave her huge testing, for she was tossed to and fro, even causing a few portholes to be smashed as well as a large ventilation shaft being knocked down.
A painting of the Sibajak during her maiden voyage and the storm she encountered
Once the ship finally came out of the storm, it was reported that some “eleven tables and twenty-three chairs” were completely damaged.
When the Sibajak had reached Tangiers a good 480-invited visitors boarded the ship during a special reception, during which Captain Boon was appointed “Officer in the Sheriffian Order” of the “Quissam Alouette.” This was a huge honour, considering that he had been to this port many times and he was very highly regarded!
The MS Sibajak then sailed for
On her return voyage to
Now we have read all about her round maiden
voyage and her adventures with storms and special events welcoming her, etc, it
is time we discover a little regarding her interiors. As built she had
accommodations for just 427 passengers, with 212 in First Class, 174 Second Class
and 68 in Third Class. In addition to these, there were another 25 berths
reserved for Dutch Troops or Marines who would sail to and from the
Although I sailed after she had a number of refits and by then a One Class Liner, but as I recall even as a boy how luxuriant the ex First Class Lounges the social Hall and Smoking Room were, as there were the abundant luxuriant timbers and the huge bowed windows offering fine views out to the Promenade deck as well as allowing light to stream in.
we see two images of the grandiose Social Hall with its huge glass dome
Here we see two images of the grandiose Social Hall with its huge glass dome
The Forward Dining Room was also amazing and a sight to behold and certainly not something that I as a boy could have expected. It could be reached by a grand staircase, but also by two fully attended electric lifts that featured the most beautifully Art Nouveau designed glass and sculptured iron artwork lift doors that I have ever seen on any lift to this date! But when you were in dining the room, which was simply beautiful, but when you looked up it really hit you, for the venue reached up another two full decks with the balustrades having been especially made from finely worked decorative metal and it looked spectacular! The decks above were cabin decks and the cabins located along the balustrades were the best of the first class cabins and obviously had an amazing view as they stepped out of their rooms!
Here we see the Lift Doors and the forward (First Class) Dining Room
However, the Second Class Public Rooms were also amazingly beautifully appointed, such as the Smoking Room that had beautifully balanced lines as well featuring the finest of timbers and it had a luxurious feel and an excellent atmosphere. The furnishings were of a high standard and on both sides there were large square windows overlooking the Promenade Deck! Just aft on the portside the was a smaller lounge, called the “Dames Salon,” or the “Ladies Lounge” yet it had writing desks, and a piano as well as comfortable furnishings and I believe that it was used as a general venue. Their Dining Room was well fitted out and always looked beautiful.
Left we see part of the Second Class Smoke Room which is on A Deck
There is a smaller Lounge on the portside, which has piano, comfy lounges,
A good number of tables and chairs as well as writing desks
Far aft was the Third Class Promenade Deck with its very spacious Sun Deck above but set in the middle of the deck was the Smoking Lounge that had this Class’ main stairwell right in it’s center of the Lounge. The Smoking Room had benches along the sidewalls and tables and chairs where space allowed.
Here is an overview of the 3rd.class Promenade Deck and the Smoking Room located in the centre, and we also see the interior
Please note that full sizes on the six images shown above will be shown on the Interior Page for these images do the venues no justice!
Please Note: A full description of the Sibajak’s “Deck by Deck” layout, combined with an extensive description of public venues and passenger facilities will be provided on a special page that will also contain many wonderful vintage photographs, which will do her far greater justice than what I have shown above in these cropped images!
The Sibajak departed
A fine painting of the MS Sibajak seen as built
third voyage of the Sibajak was all plain sailing, although whilst heading for
On Sibajak’s Voyage number six, during her return voyage a newspaper in the Dutch East Indies published an article that a “Case of Smallpox discovered aboard the MS Sibajak.” The truth is that on board of mail ships such as the Sibajak, the staff are always meticulously on alert in case of any sickness on board especially in the tropics, as there are contagious diseases always around.
Obviously influenza, measles and chicken pox
were some of the most fearsome enemies. Ship's personnel were always very
attentive to a cough or a red blotch. As soon as any suspicion of an infectious
illness arose, the patient would be immediately placed into isolation, which
would be a forced stay in their cabin or in the ship’s isolation sickbay.
In this particular instance, it turned out that it was a case of crewmember
smallpox had manifested itself towards the end of the outward journey and the
ship's doctor placed him in isolation. Thus the ships medical staff would do
everything in their power to control the situation that would arise and the
ship would advise the next Port Authority prior to arrival if certain
sicknesses were found on board! Thus it was not long after the illness had
manifested, the crewmember was taken off the ship and hospitalised in the Dutch
Indies before the ship commenced her return voyage for
Of course the other thing in those days was the occasional stowaways that were found on the ship. Thus after the departure, especially from Asian ports, the crew staff would always keep a close eye on whether someone had slipped and hidden somewhere aboard. On the return leg Voyage number eight to Rotterdam they did discover a stowaway, who was put ashore in Singapore, but he was looked well after whilst he was on board for the next few days.
Sibajak is seen berthed in one of the
These days when we sail on a ship, it will be a cruise, or even a line voyage from Australia to the UK, or a Trans-Atlantic voyage, and whilst on board there is a host of entertainment with a good number of bands, entertainers almost by the dozen, movies out on deck or in a huge Cinema, a multi-level 600 to 1,000 seat Theatre’s where there is on offer frequent high quality Production Shows. Ships today offer every possible luxury, but back in the late 1920’s it was nothing like that! There was one small band aboard and that was it, the pianist from the band would play the piano at various times, as would the violinist, the bass player was forced to play with the band. If lucky one of them could sing. There were some organised games, but not a great deal originally, that was until her Voyage ten! Thus finally RL came to realise that they did needed to improve passenger amusements and thus they decided to appoint a Games or Entertainment Director for the Sibajak, as they had already done for their other ships. Thus, finally there would be some organised sports programmes as well as more indoors entertainment programmes.
G.H. Ruhaak was in command for a number of voyages, but was replaced on Voyage
fifteen by Captain K.J. ter Marsch. It was during this voyage the
But then came Sibajak’s Voyage nineteen
and this voyage would be a most unfortunate one for the ship. On her way to the
East Indies the Captain was given the order to drop two passengers at
For her next Voyage number twenty, Captain
Slof was placed in command of the ship. He had also been her Master when the
Sibajak undertook her very first cruise to
When the Sibajak left
In 1935 RL decided that during her annual maintenance that the Sibajak’s accommodation would be modernised with upgraded facilities as well as some major alterations to be made to her Bridge and Sports Decks. Just aft of the Captains cabin and lounge and other officer’s accommodations, the old First Class Promenade Deck would be used for a new raised deckhouse that was built and was extended as far aft towards the funnel as possible. This allowed for twelve new First Class cabins, six twin bedded as well as six single bedded cabins, but none of these cabins had private facilities, this remained reserved to the two luxury cabins forward on A Deck with their private decks. Upon completion her new tonnage was 12,226 GRT.
The Sibajak is seen here directly after her refit her lifeboat configuration
remains the same, but her forward upper decks has seen a in the Dutch change
Considering that the rather sad depressing thirties had faded away and times on board the ship was gaining a much brighter feel and atmosphere. Passenger numbers increased once more as did the transportation of car numbers and sometimes, in fact at times there were so many, that RL was even forced having to park some cars on Promenade Deck.
However there were changes made whilst passengers were enjoying their long ocean voyages, and RL pampered them as much as possible. Rotterdam Lloyd certainly worked with new ideas of customer relations, and thus passengers were presented with some wonderful small gifts, the like off “Silver covered refillable lead pencils,” as well as fold away “Pocketknives” and “Imprinted Pocket Calendars.” Birthdays were really upgraded and besides a beautiful and delicheos cake, the passenger also received special attention from the Captain who would present the Birthday person with a very special gift.
1936 Captain Slof performed a rescue at sea by embarking the crew of an
overturned “Pirogue” being a large wooden boat off
Considering there was the Spanish Civil War
going on the Sibajak did have to be very careful when sailing close to its
waters. Of course this war was in many ways the early signs of the horrors that
was coming World War 2. In fact as a special precautionary measure all Dutch
ships were escorted through the
However, the dangers of war continued to
increase rapidly and by 1937, war was very much expected. Dutch and foreign
ships altered their services and headed further east of the “
MS Sibajak headed to the
Again on the voyage departing
The 47th.voyage commenced in June 1939 and this became what you might call her normal “passenger Liner Voyage” before “World War 2” commenced. During this passage the War erupted between England/France and Nazi Germany.
The Dutch Merchant fleet had been prepared for
the outbreak of war. Thus as the Polish invasion occurred on September 1, 1939,
all ships received cables in code with secret instructions on how to act. At that
moment the Sibajak had just departed
When the Sibajak arrived in
to the war in Europe, it was decided for the Sibajak to sail via
the end of November This Dutch Liner from a Neutral Country departed
At the end of February 1940 MS
Sibajak departed Soerabaja bound for
On April 10, 1940 the Nazis invaded the eastern part of the Netherlands, but the Dutch fought back bravely, but it was also the day that MS Sibajak departed Genoa and headed for the East Indies and unbelievably she was packed with passengers and her cargo holds were the same full.
This departure would mean a great
deal for the ships crew, although they did not know it as yet. Due to the war
having commenced in
Then suddenly without any warning whatsoever four days later on May 14, 1940 at 12 noon and for two and a half hours non-stop, German bomber planes flew over Rotterdam and they literally bombed the City Center flat with just the odd structure still standing, but they also destroyed a number of ships in the harbour and badly damaging ships in construction.
But worse still, the bombing destroyed an incredible; 2,320 shops and department stores, 775 warehouses, 62 schools and 24 churches were destroyed, as well as 24,978 homes making well over 85,000 people completely homeless! But that was the material losses, but the human loss was far greater. Sadly they were never able to obtain a total of actual number of lives lost, but it is estimated to be between 890 to around 950 Dutch innocent citizens dead and thousands having been wounded or seriously wounded to the point of having become disabled. But regardless of the number lost, each one is very precious, and the Dutch Government is well aware that there were many people that had come to the Netherlands from the East in order to escape the Nazis most being Jewish and some of these refugees who would have been in hiding would not been listed in the local paperwork. Thus the numbers lost could sadly have been greater
However, during this dramatic
time the Sibajak being one of five Rotterdam Lloyd (RL) Passenger Liners found
herself located in
With the Sibajak having arrived at
She made one further voyage to
Then in May 1941 she was chartered by
the British Ministry of War Transport and she departed
Then in May 1941 she was chartered by
the British Ministry of War Transport and she departed
On June 12, 1941 the HMT Sibajak sailed under
the builders instructions to the Naval Base. Whilst she was in Singapore Strait
and Selat Sinki her canon
and machine guns were given all given a good check over and actually the cannon
shot a shell into a safe area near by and the machineguns did a practice round,
thus the gunners made sure that all they were well equipped with their guns.
Also, that their shifts would know their positions as well as the guns they
would be handling during the many and long voyages in very dangerous waters!
When she arrived at
Sibajak commenced on a six months operation of a trio of voyages from
It was during HMT Sibajak’s first departure, with Australian troops having boarded in Sydney she departed together with the following Dutch troopships, the HMT Marnix van St. Aldegonde, HMT Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt and the Australian liner HMT Katoomba, with the escort cruiser the H.M.A.S. Sydney between Sydney to Fremantle and the H.M.A.S. Canberra between Melbourne and Singapore arriving there on 15/8/1941. However it was during this very first voyage that the convoy was caught in a severe storm, which caused heavy damage to the cruiser H.M.A.S. Sydney.
Her next departure from
She soon departed for her third voyage to
Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle and the latter two went very smoothly, unlike
the first with the massive storm in the
Then at the end of October 1941 the Sibajak
sailed for the first time to
Of course, by now
Sadly, the situation in the
This great battle was a battle during World
War II which occurred at Manado on the Minahasa
peninsula on the northern part of the island of Celebes, known (today as
Sulawesi, and it was a short but a hard fought fight from 11 to 13 January
1942. The idea was to open a passage in order to set up a suitable base from
where to attack
In February 1942
the Sibajak was made ready for a major Convoy protected by a large fleet of
H.M. warships, among which were cruisers as well as an aircraft
carrier. This convoy was the “WS” or as some called it the
“Winston Churchill Special” to
Besides the HMT Sibajak in
Then Convoy WS.16 departed
However, ships that continued to
This new convoy departed
WS.16” & the Fleet sailing from the
………Awatea (NZ) - Troops.
………City of Lincoln - Stores - Feb 18 returned due to shifting cargo, hull damaged by a tank.
………Delftdijk (NL) - Stores.
………Denbighshire - Stores.
………Mooltan - Troops.
………Sibajak (NL) – Troops.
………Strathaird - Troops.
………Bergensfjord (NOR) – Troops - Feb 28 Man buried at sea having passed away.
………Empire Pride - Troops.
………Nea Hellas - Troops.
………Ormonde - Troops.
………Stratheden - Troops.
………Volendam (NL) - Troops.
………Potaro - Stores - 44-ton Motor Launch
shifted and proceeded to
Convoy WS.16B the MS Sibajak has headed for and she was berthed at
The Sibajak departed
Thereafter she sailed with Convoy WS.22 from
August 1943, whilst in
In February 1944 whilst in
Liverpool she once again made ready for another voyage to Bombay, after which
she returned to Liverpool around the end of May and the Sibajak was finally
installed with the latest Radar equipment. She then departed for a three-month
With Sibajak’s dry-docking completed,
she sailed for
As the situation in the
During 1946 along an amazing 70,000
repatriates were able to board the Sibajak and other RL liners and head home to
During 1946 along an amazing 70,000
repatriates were able to board the Sibajak and other RL liners and head home to
Whilst in the
Sibajak then sailed for
RL Directors had already made provisional plans regarding the possibility that should she survive the war, that obviously the Sibajak would have to return into service as a Passenger Liner again. This would mean that she would need a comprehensive reconversion from being a basic troopship into a glamorous liner. But sadly she had to wait for a while as there was more work for her to do post war, for she would continue to transport repatriated persons and soldiers right through until 1950. For example as I was advised; “The (Dutch) 3-7th.Regiment Infantries was relieved and moved via Semarang to Batavia to prepare for its repatriation on the MS Sibajak on November 29, 1949 arriving in Rotterdam on December 28, 1949.”
Between 1945 to 1950 the Netherlands Government required the Sibajak as well as other Dutch Liners in order to evacuate their citizens and other people from their ex threatened colony and also to transport troops to the various theatres of war on the other side of the globe.
In the decade following the Second World War,
many Dutch people attempted to obtain a booking on a passenger liner that was
able to take them to a new home and a new future in a new land far away. Each
week people from all over the country and from all sections of the population,
hundreds of new applicants presented themselves, with most desiring to go to
On April 15, 1950 the Sibajak departed
Finally RRL sent the Sibajak to the Rotterdam Dry Cock Company in August 1951 for one of the most extensive refits in her history as she would now become a One-Class Liner. Her old third class facilities were completely stripped and all the First and Second Class Lounges and Dining Rooms were completely refurbished and updated, and a new lounge was constructed under the old second class Sun Deck with a bar, a place I spent a great deal of time with my new found friends during my voyage in 1958! But sadly I have no photographs of this venue on an exterior one. The previous third class Smoking Room far aft on Promenade deck became the new Children’s Playroom. In addition all cabins received upgrades with superior bedding, soft furnishings and other modifications. Upon completion she accommodated a total of 956 passengers in the following accommodations; 598 passengers in 1, 2, 4 and several 6-berth cabins. 358 passengers in 5 medium to large dormitories each having the following; 18, 34, 40, 128 to 138 berths. She was completed on April 24, 1952 and she departed on her fist voyage as a One Class liner four days later! MS Sibajak now had an official Registered Gross Tonnage of 12,342 GRT.
Having been completed, the all-new MS Sibajak
was chartered to the Dutch Government, but she remained under RRL management
and she was to enter the
Having been to
author boarded the Sibajak on a beautiful sunny day in
Changes in the Making:
Considering that the Government charter for
the ship would end in March 1957, Royal Rotterdam Lloyd commenced to make new
plans for the Sibajak as well as their newer and larger liner the MS Willem
Ruys in August 1956. Following the sharp decrease of the total volume of
After much consideration Royal Rotterdam Lloyd
and the Netherland Line (SMN) decided to enter their ships, including the
Sibajak into profitable service to destinations as
Round the World Service: Rotterdam, Holland; Southampton, UK; Willemstad, Curacao; Balboa, Panama; Cristobal, Panama; Papeete, Tahiti; Wellington, New Zealand; Sydney, Melbourne & Fremantle, Australia; Singapore (occasionally Indonesia); Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka); Suez, Port Said, Egypt; Southampton, UK; Rotterdam, Holland.
Director Mr. Ruys of Royal Rotterdam Lloyd in October 1957 realised with Sibajak’s old age, and her accommodation being so out of date compared to standards in the passenger shipping industry in general, that a decision had to be made soon. This came before the end of 1958 when RRL made an official decision that the Sibajak simply could no longer compete with their other liner on the same service, the glamorous and luxurious MS Willem Ruys. Thus a decision was made that the Sibajak would be removed from the fleet in the very near future.
In addition The Netherland Line (SMN) had the equally glamorous MS Oranje in operation on the same service, she and the Willem Ruys were two class liners, but Tourist Class was of an extremely high standard with beautifully appointed lounges, spacious decks, both classes having swimming pools and so much more, as well superior entertainments, that on the Sibajak!
Then finally in March 1959 an offer came in for £180,000 (English Pounds) from “Chung Hing Enterprise Company” of Hong Kong and considering this was the best offer received to date, after consideration, RRL decided to accept it in April with the agreement that the sale would be on the basis that she would be delivered and handed over late August 1959 in Hong Kong.
Sibajak’s final Voyage was carefully planned for the company was well
aware that there would be a good number
of full fare paying passengers who would wish to sail on her either on all or
part of the way and thus being able to keep the memory of this ship alive!
There had been individuals who had come by ship to
On June 19, 1959 the RRL management sent a memo to Captain Flach that Sibajak would sail on June 23 and that;
“You sail via Southampton,
Thus when the Sibajak would return to
MS Sibajak’s Voyage 155 was boarding 739
Serving aboard were 112 Dutch officers and 144 wonderful Indonesian Stewards and Clerical as well as other Staff and those hard working 7 Chinese Laundrymen, who did an amazing job!
Her first port of call was
Southampton she then sailed via her usual ports of Willemstad Curacao, Balboa
Atlantic side of
departed on August 6, and then she headed for
Here we see Captain J. C. Flach on the Bridge wing of his beloved ship-
the MS Sibajak during her very last voyage to Australia and Hong Kong-
It was early in the morning of August 25, 1959 when the Sibajak slowly arrived in Hong Kong, and the ship was rapidly boarded by four security guards as well as three police officers for supervisory and inspection purposes. They remained on board until the official handover four days later, being Saturday the 29th. Most of her furnishings, fittings and stores had of course been removed whilst she was in Singapore, thus there was very little to remove from the ship in Hong Kong before the ship was officially “Ready for Delivery.”
Early in the morning of August 29 the Sibajak’s Captain Flach received the authority for the delivery of the Sibajak from the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Directors and she was made ready for official delivery to take place at noon on that same day. The representatives (Royal Interocean Lines) of the purchaser and the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd, together with Sibajak’s Captain J. C. Flach signed her delivery certificate, which read;
“It is hereby agreed between Messrs. Chung Hing Enterprise Co. of Hong Kong, Purchasers, on the one part, and the Royal Interocean Lines, Hong Kong, Agents for Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd N.V., Rotterdam, Sellers, on the other part, that the Twin Screw motor passenger vessel “SIBAJAK,” gross 12,342 tons, net 6,935 tons, has been delivered by Seller's Agents and accepted by Purchasers at 1200 hours on 29th August, 1959, at Hong Kong Harbour, in accordance with the relevant Memorandum of Agreement, dated 6th April, 1959.”
And with the above, Captain Flach and his staff disembarked, but the directors of Chung Hing Enterprises had invited the Captain and several of his senior officers as well as several managers of RRL agents in Hong Kong, RIL and they went to one of the finest Chinese restaurants for a farewell meal.
As we well know, Asians are very efficient and within less than a week the breaking of the greatly loved Sibajak had began and she rapidly was broken up, in fact from what I have been told that her breaking up was very much completed in just four months, thus by the end on 1959.
“Grand Old Lady" of the “Royal Rotterdam Lloyd.”
It should be remembered that the M.S. Sibajak
contributed greatly to the fame and the massive success of the “Koninklijke
Rotterdamsche Lloyd NV” also known as the
we should not forget during the Second World War she sailed an amazing 410,000
nautical miles (that is like her circling the Globe 19 times) and serving her
country well, although under the British, but with a Dutch crew, she
transported a total number of 75,000 troops to and from the many theatres of
war! In addition, after the War having received her major refit, she was
responsible for bringing well over 25,000 Dutch emigrants to
And of course as I stated earlier
on this feature, I myself sailed on the MS Sibajak from
Built at:..................De Schelde, Vlissingen.
Call Sign:…………………PSBQ - 1940; PHMB.
Tonnage:…………………12,040 GRT - 1935; 12,226 GRT - 1952; 12,342 GRT.
………………………………..7,087 NW (Net Weight) 8,289 DW (Dead Weight).
Length:……………………161.54m - 529.11ft.
Breadth:………………….19.16m - 62.10ft.
Draught:………………….7.82m - 25.7ft.
Engines by:.............De Schelde (
Engine Type:…………..Motor Oil, 2-stroke single acting.
Service speed:………..Maximum 17 knots.
Passengers:…………….1928: 454; 212 First, 174 Second and 68 in Third Class,
………………………………..Also 24 berths for Dutch troops.
………………………………..1935: 525; 200 First, 250 Second and 75 in Third Class.
………………………………..1950: 956; One Class.
Crew:……………………….254 - In 1950; 489.
:…………………….MS Sibajak had long career from 1927 to 1959 - This is her complete story!
:…………………….Brochures, Deck Plans, Photographs Menus and Memorabilia.
Interiors, Deck by Deck.
:…………………The Ships Interiors, Deck by Deck.
Author’s voyage on the Sibajak from
:………………The Family Salden-Van Mulken sail to
:…………………….Ships Chef H B Hulspas story, a floor show programme and a farewell menu dated 1955.
:…………………….Family van der
Net and their voyage to
:……………………...Family van der Biezen sailed on her second last voyage in 1959.
Family’s voyage to
Also visit the Three other Dutch Liners on the New Zealand - Australian Service
Visit: - &
Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”
ENTER OUR ssMaritime
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 only on ), in order that due credit may be given.
This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displayed on each page, that is, when a page is updated!