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Ferry van Eeuwen


Start Radio Room Radar Equipm War Time Ondina



In the true fashion of a Flying Dutchman the Ondina skims the horizon cloaked in darkness and secrecy. It is quite sure that it really is the Ondina as the two rather funny smoke stacks are clearly visible. As far as I know there is no other ship which has such inharmonious smoke stacks. They are more functional than beautiful. In my view it is a flaw in the beautiful ship's design. This picture was taken with a Practica camera at Santos, Brasil by Hans vd Berg in February 1985. The Ondina was lying there for general maintenance work.

Another picture taken by the same crew member when the Ondina was approaching Rio de Janeiro.

I served a little while on the Dutch Shell tanker 'Ondina'. In those days they still had the 'flagship' system in certain Dutch shipping companies. The flagship was the pride of a shipping company, usually the newest and quite often also the biggest ship in the company fleet. The flagship captain was the most senior captain. It was so to speak his farewell ship; you became such a captain when one was close to retirement. In that way  companies used to pay their respect to there senior captains. It brought no extra money, just the glory. I think the system is obsolete now, with may be the exception of passenger shipping companies. For luxury liners like the recently built 'Amsterdam'  such an institute could have a commercial impact I suppose.

From my Seaman's Book on the 'Marine" page you can see that I was on board the Ondina from August 3, 1962 until December 29, 1962, altogether about 5 months. As you can see I barely missed Christmas. During my time at sea I spent all 9 Christmases at sea, mostly in the tropics. When it is 30 degrees and above, having Christmas gives the Dutch a weird feeling: what no cold, no snow? I always felt a little unrealistic, up to the end. And life went on also during Christmas time, meaning that there were navigation officers on the bridge and personnel down in the engine room, also during the Christmas dinner. I remember one occasion on board another ship, we were anchored on the roads off a British port and just had started our Christmas dinner, when the pilot unexpectedly came on board and insisted on pulling out the anchor and proceeding to our berth right away. We asked the pilot kindly to join us and delay departure for one hour, but he was definitely not in the Christmas mood  and he could not be persuaded to do so. Instead he threatened to leave the ship and the consequences to the captain. Another ship would gladly take our berth he stated crisply. Have a Merry Christmas. The Christmas spirit was broken, but that's what we were paid for, running a ship at all times, no matter what. 

The  steam turbine ship (16.000 horse powers) 'Ondina' was built in 1961 in Rotterdam (RDM Yard) and owned and managed by Shell Tankers. Overall length 228 m, width 31,24 m, draught 11,58 m, gross tonnage 48.870, service speed 16 knots, crew 58.  This Ondina's predecessor was built in 1939 and was in a heroic battle with two Japanese auxiliary cruisers of which one was sunk by the Ondina's single gun aft! In the amidships staircase a painting was attached to the bulkhead which gives an artist's impression of the battle. The ship had a double interswitched 3 and 10 cm radar system, state of the art, but in this picture I see only one radar scanner on the amidships' radar mast.

The sea shell 'Ondina' is a member of a family of very small shells. They live in the waters around Japan and off the coast of California. The size of the shell is about 30 times smaller than as shown in this picture. Hopefully I can get hold of a better picture...

A picture of the aft ship taken from the ship's radar mast. That's me having a sunbath in the ship's highest position
Another picture showing the Ondina's  the fore ship. A view down the radar mast's ladder. I climbed the mast with unsafe footwear! The horizontal pipes with lamps at the end was called the 'Christmas tree" or navigation signal lights.

Every ship in Shell's tanker fleet was named after a seashell. A specie of the shell was on display on board each ship in a special enclosure (souvenir hunter proof). When a ship was decommissioned office personnel hurried to save the 'Shell and Bell' as we used to say. The bell was the rather big copper bell on the forward part of the ship and which was rung during periods of fog. The ship's bell was branded with the ship's name. All the ship's bells of such vessels were hanging as trophies from the ceiling in the restaurant of Shell Tankers' office building in the centre of Rotterdam. Long ago the office was closed. I am curious about the whereabouts of these bells now.

Painting of the heroic sea battle on November 11, 1942 between the previous War Time Ondina and two Japanese auxiliary cruisers, the 'Hokoku Maru and the "Aikoku Maru", near the Christmas Islands. The Ondina's single gun sunk one of the two enemy war ships! This painting could be seen in the amidships staircase as a remembrance of her famous predecessor. The original painting was in colour!

As a Dutch saying goes: Vol in de ribben, hoog in de boeg...

This picture was probably taken in the English channel by an aircraft which photographed passing ships for commercial purposes. I see opened tank lids indicating that the Ondina is between coastal ports. It was quite common to touch a number of English ports for the discharge of the cargo. The port of origin painted beneath the ship's name aft is 's Gravenhage which is The Hague, in Dutch also called Den Haag. In this picture I recognize the normal two radar scanners in the radar mast again!

A picture of the aft amidships. The two 3 and 10 cm radar scanners are very visible from this position. The radio room and my cabin were next to each other on the (top) bridge deck at the port side just behind the wheelhouse and chartroom. High and dry.....

The officer's smoke room and lounge on the Ondina. To the left the officer's mess room is visible. A picture with greater detail is shown next.

The officer's mess room The large table in the middle is the Captain's table. There always were two table settings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is due to the fact that a ship is a 24/7 operation. The ship captains always sat in on the second table session. As he is missing this is the first table session. 'My' is the one to the right and close to the windows. Almost normal windows, no port holes!

The LD-HD propulsion turbines on board the Ondina. This picture was taken by another crew member Peter F. Borsboom. The camera was the famous Agfa Clack, a rather simple budget contraption.