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Ferry van Eeuwen


Start T-2 tanker Village Duivendrecht Willem Barendsz




(1950 - 1964)

The ship was built in 1950 by the Rotterdamse Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM) for the Van Ommeren Shipping Company and had a  gross tonnage of 5481 and a nett tonnage 2625. Speed was 12 knots. The main engine was a 4 cylinder Doxford motor of 2800 horsepower. The ship carried a crew of around 40. Van Ommeren lost 5 of the 9 tankers during the war and compensated that with two ex war time T-2 tankers (Wieldrecht and Woensdrecht) and the Duivendrecht. 

Judging from this picture the aircraft from which it was taken was flying pretty low and probably on an opposite course from the ship's course. I remember the British reconnaissance aircrafts in the Mediterranean flying very low over the ship when we were near Malta. They always came in from behind and almost touched the masts. The noise when passing over was so loud that everybody scrambled to the decks to see what was happening, even those sleeping during the day time due to the 24 hour watch system. It was their kind of having fun we supposed. It never occurred during night time. War was a 0900 to 1700 hour business then or so it seemed.


I have no idea where this picture was taken. The ship is not moving as there is no propeller wake to be seen and the anchors are also in place. Probably "waiting for orders!" I received the picture from the son of Cor van der Velde who sailed on this ship also in the fifties, but before my time.

The m.s. Duivendrecht was my third ship I sailed on and this time it became a  longer contract than with my first two ships. The Duivendrecht was less than 5500 tons and thus a rather small ship. It was built for the transport of all kinds of special and expensive oils and substances, such as lubricating oil (short lub oil), machine oil, stearin etc. Some of the cargo's had to be heated while in transport from terminal to terminal to prevent coagulation, such as could happen to a cargo of stearin. The 28 cargo tanks were isolated as much as possible from the cold to sometimes very cold ocean water by empty, air filled tanks. The outer hull was in full contact with the streaming ocean water all the time and if this measure had not been taken it would have been very difficult to prevent the cargo's temperature from dropping dangerously. In fact it was a ship in a ship. I just read in the newspapers these days that it has been decided to build new tankers always in this fashion now! But that is more a anti-pollution measure, so that with minor accidents the cargo's contents does not flow into the water straight away. Apart from isolating the cargo from the sea water the tanks could also be heated by means of metal tubing which was 'woven' inside the tanks and through which steam flowed. As the Duivendrecht was a motor ship, a special steam boiler for this purpose had been installed in the engine room. Everybody's fear was that the steam boiler would break down one day......   I know it had happened on a sister ship, I think it was the Dordrecht, and they had to dig out the stearin by hand. What happened though in my time on the Duivendrecht was that during discharge the tank valves were wrongly handled resulting in a mix of two totally different cargo's. The resulting damage, as the cargo was much more valuable than kerosene or crude oil,  was considerable. The responsible deck officer was set back by the company on the promotion list 'so many' places. He would then be promoted years later than he was normally due for, unless something else happened again. There were known  cases of so called 'eternal 1st or 2nd officers' as they were called, who probably never would assume the position of captain. That was the usual disciplinary system common to most shipping companies. And everyone feared that punishment. There was even a Dutch word used on board ships for these nightmarish incidents which cannot be translated: 'bakkie'.  For instance it was said:' He had two 'bakkies' recently, or: So far he did not have any 'bakkies'. No idea what the origin of that word was/is.....  The normal expression 'bakkie' is related to having a cup of coffee, but the meaning of the maritime word 'bakkie' is quite different. 

This picture was taken at the very small berth at Good Hope near New Orleans, LA on the Mississippi River. The ship was built with the 'flying T-bridge' in mind. Amidships and the accommodation aft had rounded contours to reduce wind load. The funnel is smoking rather heavily and when sailing on the river Thames in England we were fined for smoking less! A fine on the Thames would amount to 3000 British pounds and at a rate of 10 Dutch guilders to the pound then, it was about 30.000 Dutch guilders. Quite an amount even in those days.


Not even a full blown storm, but as the ship is fully loaded it sits deep in the water and is an easy target for bigger waves. I had to climb into the mast on the accommodation aft to take this picture.

This picture and the one to the left show the tanker's amidships. The waves can be seen on the starboard side of the ship.

An ullaging exercise during bad weather was a dangerous thing to do. This is a shot taken from the amidships toward the accommodation aft.

We used to call the Duivendrecht a surface submarine. In heavy weather it was some kind of sport to time your sprint from the amidships to the mess room aft so that you arrived dry and not soaking wet, which often occurred. Anyway that was the case for the first table setting. The captain, not built for these sprinting exercises, always had the ship's head turned into the wind and waves especially for him so that he could walk over safely and dry to the second table setting in the mess room. The advantage of rank! Note that in the lower left picture a deck officer, with swimming vest, is taking ullages while standing in the swirling sea water, risking his life for the cargo's welfare.

When at sea one advantage of having a low free board as on the good ship Duivendrecht, was the fact that lots of flying fishes stranded on the deck. Not every day but quite regularly. We used to turn on the deck lights aft a couple of hours before sunrise to attract the fish. Maybe that was a story I really don't know. At dawn the sailors on duty used to 'harvest' the fishes on the deck, which were fried for breakfast by the ship's cooks and were quite delicious. In the beginning I almost gagged at the idea to eat fish for breakfast, even the smell of it was distasteful. But eventually I overcame my dislike and learned to appreciate it. You cannot get fish fresher than that. Later, when sailing on much bigger ships with very high free boards I never saw a fish on the deck again, only in or rather out of the water! Flying fishes could only 'fly'  or rather glide a little distance above the water. They would break out of a wave top quite unexpectedly and could sail on their special fins quite a distance. It was said that they did not do that for the fun of it, but to escape other predator fish.

The free fish was a welcome supplementary food item. The food on the ship was very bad and kept to a bare minimum by the captain in close cooperation with the chief steward. The last one had to come to the captain's office every day in order to discuss the next day's menu and anything expensive or that smelled of luxury was stricken of the menu list. Like other Dutch companies the owners had invented the "Ship of the Month" game. You became the "Ship of the Month" when the average food figure of a ship was the lowest in the fleet. Quite an honor and it reflected also very positively in the captain's bonus,  which was pursued by most captains also for that reason, but not all I must say. For breakfast the number of slices of cheese and sausage where carefully counted per person and as most young officers including myself , I was 18  then, normally sat in on the first table session  -  the staff always on the second  -   we ended up by eating slices of bread with only margarine on top, if still available. Some, like me, poured on some salt on the margarine to give it a little more zip. Often the captain complained that we were eating like miners. Not more than exactly three eggs per week as this was the minimum that were allowed to by seaman's union regulation. Sometimes two eggs per week but then the chief steward argued that a slice of cake had been served at a certain moment that week. One egg per slice was a bit much, especially since the cake was bleak and dry like ship's biscuits in the old days. The captain tried to store always in the UK as prices were much cheaper there than for instance in the States. Fruit was also kept to the regulatory minimum as it was expensive and for vegetables he had a strong preference for turnips as they were far out the cheapest kind. We got turnips almost day in and day out. I still can not stand turnips, the smell alone turns over my stomach. In Holland turnips are sarcastically called "Zeeuwsche Ananas", meaning "Ananas or Pineapple from the Dutch province of Zeeland". The inhabitants of that province are traditionally  called scrooges and turnips there favorite food as it costs  next to nothing. The captain was a born Frisian from the northern part of the country. The inhabitants of that province are also not known to be big spenders and tight-pursed. The gravy was another story. Please pass me the water-boat we used to ask each other, instead of the gravy-boat. The official hot meal was served at 1200 and 1230 hours, first and second session. At 1800 and 1830 hours we also got a warm meal supplemented with bread. The meat was often of such low quality that you could hardly cut it. Steak was served on rare occasions and when it was it was so tough as shoe leather, although it handed been run through a meat tenderizer. A kitchen contraption with a lot of needles which penetrated the stubborn meat. It only helped a little bit.  We called it steak from the nose bone of the cow or steak from the cow's hoof, specialty of the house we used to say. Often we did not eat the hot meal and contented ourselves with eating slices of bread. As there was no cheese, sausage nor butter at that meal time, we poured some gravy from the gravy- or rather water-boat over the bread. That was it then. Nice. The English potatoes which we stored were also of a very low quality, probably the cheapest they could buy. No matter how long they were cooked they had a 'glassy' texture and no taste at all. On one occasion a delegation of the sailors went to the captain's cabin with a pan full of these potatoes in order to complain about this kind of food. As we later heard the captain took a sample potato out of the pan, tasted it and declared that nothing was wrong with the potatoes. One of the sailors picked up the big pan and turned it over on the captain's desk saying: "Well if you like them you may keep them, we certainly do not want them". After that act they stamped out of the captain's cabin. The family at home, when returning from a trip noticed that I had lost weight. When arriving at the Hook of Holland pilot station once, the pilot came on board with a smirk and told the captain that the text "Honger" , meaning "Hunger", had been painted on both sides on the ship's hull in huge white letters. The captain was enraged but nothing could be done to remove the lettering on short notice. Some sailors must have risked their lives to paint the text during night time  on the ship's hull before arrival. The Van Ommeren's  office crowd as usual waiting for the ship to berth was not amused at all. The captain said it was all to due to a few  criminal crew members and certainly not to the food which was excellent. It was true that with the company  we had quite a number of ex-criminals on board who were paroled as they were willing to go to sea......  In very big contrast was the food on my next ships, also manned by van Ommeren, the "W. Alton Jones" under Liberian flag. The food there was suddenly of a more than excellent quality. How can?  Well the American owners Grandbassa Tanker Company paid for the food on board and then a was a completely different story. One of the captains there even encouraged us to eat as much as possible as the Americans paid for it anyway as he stated.

As there was no remote temperature measuring system the amount of steam necessary to keep the tank's contents liquid, the temperature of each tank had to be measured manually. I think it was done every six hours. There were special ullage holes which gave excess to a long rope hanging down in the tank's contents and to which three thermometers were attached at different heights. The whole rope had to be hoisted by hand and the temperatures were written down. It was a messy two man's job. The measured temperatures were compared to previous readings and the amount of steam was adjusted if necessary. Not all tanks had to be monitored in this complex way as some tanks were loaded with oil that did not need warming all the time. Compare that to the remote sensors we have these days, which we can also feed into a control system that would monitor and regulate the temperatures automatically. As the ship had very little free board the waves had easy access to the deck, even under moderate weather situations. Ullaging went on even during stormy weather conditions, although sometimes then the ship was turned into the wind and waves to prevent serious accidents to the ullaging crew. On one occasion I witnessed during such adverse conditions the first officer and the apprentice being dragged from port all the way to the starboard side by a freak wave, right through all the tank lids and other obstacles. They were quite lucky that the starboard railing served as a kind of safety net, otherwise they would have been swept clean off the ship. The rather badly wounded first officer, when being saved from the deck accused the captain of bad seamanship and intentional murder as it was quite foolish to send anybody out on the deck during such weather conditions. Before he had refused to go out on the deck, but the captain insisted on the ullage round anyway. The enraged 'Chief' physically attacked the captain when the latter still denied any responsibility  for the incident as 'these things happen' and had to be controlled by the other present officers. The incident, which should have normally been entered into the ship's log, was covered up in mutual agreement. The captain probably realized that he had endangered his bonus and the first officer that, no matter what the reason could have been, he should not have attacked the captain, which was considered a serious act then. At least he would have been promoted to captain years later than planned. So the system had conquered again! In my opinion the captain took a very big risk by not mentioning the incidents in the ship's log. This was not an uncommon practice as I have seen it happen again on two more occasions on other ships. One captain, who had the misfortune that this fact became known, was relieved of his command on arrival at the next port.

In the radio room on board the ms Duivendrecht, call sign PDTS,  in 1954. I am 18 years then. Time flies...... The radio equipment was a RCA 4-U console with medium and short-wave transmitters and receivers. The receiver in the console behind my left arm is the famous BC-348. In fact it was a surplus wartime aircraft receiver. BC stands for Bomber Command. The 4-U was also war surplus equipment and fitted on most wartime T-2 tankers and Liberty freighter ships.

The 4U radio console was the pride of the Radiomarine Corporation, a division of RCA. It consisted of 4 units   -  hence 4U   -   bolted together and to the bulkhead and floor of the ship's radiostations, for instance on the Liberty vessels. It was made with the speed of installation in mind. The 4U console in this picture is the final result of a restoration project and it was obtained from the Victory ship SS Rider Victory, one of several such ships in the scrap row of the Mothball Fleet north of San Francisco.

The 4 cylinder Doxford motor in the engine room needed a lot of maintenance and was quite troublesome. Often the piston rings broke and needed replacement. That was done at sea and took about six to eight hours. It could only be done during calm weather conditions. I developed a great respect for the ship's engineers who had to deal then with the swinging piston like a kind of circus artists. Drifting around with no engine was always kind of strange. No familiar motor sounds which soothed you to sleep, the uncontrolled rolling and heaving of the ship to the rhythm of the sea and a lot of silence. Only small sounds of waves breaking on the hull made it a rather special event. On one occasion we had to anchor near one of the islands of the Azores to do this job. After a couple of hours the wind started to increase in strength very much. The wind was in an inland direction so that the ship's poop deck was aimed at the island. When the wind further increased it was noted that the anchor was slipping over the probably rocky bottom. More anchor chain was given with at first good result. The anchor seemed to have obtained a proper grip now. But after another hour when the wind was even stronger the anchor started slipping again and no more chain left now. We were in danger of running into the shore of the island, which drew nearer and nearer. Everybody was getting very edgy now. At the last possible moment the frantically  working ship's engineers finished the job. The start of the motor, with compressed air always giving a loud bang, did not work the first time. Although that was almost the usual thing, the tension grew, but with the second attempt the engine started. Everybody was cheering like with a football game. Steaming up to the anchor and winching in both the chain and the anchor was done in record time. When provoked an angry steam anchor winch can do wonders. We steamed away from the island at top speed with the wind on the port side as to clear the island as soon as possible. If the engine failed again then it would be okay, we could drift to the African coast if need be!

A lot of tanker cleaning was done at sea. After discharge of the cargo in the various European ports all the residues in all 28 tanks had to be removed due to the special and expensive cargo's the ship carried. The ship had a Butterworth system which was lowered into each tank by turn. The Butter worth machines had two rotating sort of fireman's nozzles which emitted very hot jets of water at a high pressure. In combination with caustic soda it cleaned the tanks rather well. The Butter worth machines were lowered by bits into the tanks so that all the steel walls of the tanks would be hit by the jets. It was quite a big job for the sailors of the deck crew. Shore inspectors used to go down into the tanks with white glove (!) to check for traces of the previous cargo. Only when they had given their consent the ship could be loaded. It was a disaster if a tank or even more than one was not approved of. The consequence would be to take less cargo on that trip and that was a shame that nobody wanted. Schedules and reputations could be ruined rather easily!

Speaking about the deck crew and sailors it reminds me that in those days, with all of new ships being built, there was a permanent shortage of crew, all ranks. When the VOC started to sail to the East Indies and Japan in 1602 they had the same problem. All kinds of hands were taken on then, able bodied seamen or not. In those medieval days sailors, it was not unusual that after a good night of drinking he would awaken on a board ship at sea the next day.  I understand that in the period just after the war it was common practice that prisoners, who had not committed too serious crimes, could get paroled if they joined a Dutch ship. Yes, we are a crafty little problem solving bunch! It was also rumored that the CEO of Van Ommeren, Mr. Ooievaar held a high position on the probation board and that this was the reason for the influx of jail birds on Van Ommeren's fleet. Maybe it were evil tongues that started the rumor. I do not know whether all this was actually true; I still have to research that one day. Fact was that we had a lot of rough and tough customers on board some with extensive jail experience, up to may be one third of the sailors. They were not shy about their exploits either and would recount juicily about their adventures. For instance at night, when sailors had to steer the ship by hand. We had the auto-pilot on during the day time, but steering had to be practiced by all sailors so that they would not unlearn it. And that was a fine moment to tell their stories in the anonymous darkness of the wheel house to a small often receptive audience. We sometimes doubled up with laughter about their often crazy exploits. A lot of those guys were not hard to handle, they preferred and enjoyed this free life on board the ship above the prison environment. There always was a small number of less amusable types which were very hard to handle. The boatswain had to be a big guy for this reason as his authority was more or less linearly related to his stature and physical strength. I remember the boatswain on board the Duivendrecht who used to stick out his enormous chin close to the face of a rebellious sailor while holding his hands dramatically behind his back and inviting his opponent to hit him on the chin as hard as he could. It was a fascinating performance but it always worked. Not one sailor ever met his challenge. Today we call that management by intimidation.

A special case was our very black pump man from Surinam, who was responsible for the pump room and played an important role in loading or unloading the ship's cargo. In Good Hope near New Orleans (see the picture above) he was the hero of the black workers on the jetty who all had very simple jobs. No blacks in a leading position in those days. And this black  pump man ordering white sailors around to open or shut valves on the deck. I used to travel by Greyhound bus to New Orleans. The first time ashore there I did not know that you were supposed to sit in front of a (blank) sign as a white person. As the bus was pretty full I sat down behind the sign. The chauffeur was yelling something over his shoulder, but I did not expect that this was meant for me. I saw that people in front of me where looking in my direction but I did not know why that was. After some more yelling the chauffeur pulled the bus over to the side of road and came angrily towards me and now I finally understood I was in the wrong section. I started to get up but that was not necessary as the chauffeur yanked the sign, which was removable, from the seat in front of me and put it on the back of my seat. Apparently I  was promoted to the white section now without having even moved and he went again to the front of the bus, satisfied. The colored people sitting next to me, as stung by a bee all moved to a place behind the sign. I was perplexed as up in the northern states where I had only been up to that time nothing of this was the case. Anyway it explained the high regards the people at the jetty had of our black pump man. He was invited to their homes all the time and we saw him sometimes driving in a big 8 cylinder ocean blue or rose convertible with some nice black girls in the car which was lent to him by his black friends. He used to wave cheerily   -  sunglasses and all  -   at us or stopped and asked whether we wanted a lift. We kindly thanked him, next time maybe. He used to laugh his head off on those occasions because of the look on our faces. No white jetty boss would ever lend us their car let alone their girl friends for that matter. Apart from most of the northern ports we often came in Savannah GA, Miami FLA, Tampa FLA, Mobile AL, Beaumont TX, Good Hope and Baton Rouge MI, Galveston and Houston TX, Port Arthur and other ports which names I don't remember right now. 

It always was nice going ashore and seeing the sights. The only problem was money. In that post wartime period we were only allowed to convert per month one third of our nett wages into dollars. And the exchange rate of the dollar was 3.80 Dutch guilders to one dollar. My wages were less than 500 Dutch guilders in those days. Touching a lot of American ports to pick up all kinds of rather small parcels of cargo prevented us to become big spenders. The married guys were instructed by their wives and friends to buy ladies rare items such as nylon stocking which were hard to get in Holland then. And bra's. We sometimes went into specialized bra shops to fulfill the orders from home. The female personnel usually started to get panicky a bit due to this rather unexpected male invasion. We  liked the confusion, watching the girls turning all kind of colors and some of them disappearing with suppressed laughter behind doors or curtains. I remember one second mate who used to take the size of the cups by slamming his big fist into it and saying no this one too small, a size bigger please. Quite an innovative  measuring system for cup size but it was clear that it was highly unusual for the ladies behind the counter. More of them disappearing out of sight. 

A hot item was buying Long Playing records or LP's for ourselves and sometimes also for the home front, mostly classical music. These could hardly be obtained in Holland then and if so, at great cost. They only problem left was getting the purchases by the often fanatic Dutch custom officers at a Dutch port. They had checked beforehand in which ports the ship had been and knew exactly what to look for. One of the captains who was on board during my period was however the champion smuggler. He thought nobody knew, but you can not keep any secrets in such a small community as on board a ship. He smuggled Leerdam glassware big time, which was famous in Holland an abroad, to the States. He stashed it the compartments above the ceilings and the bulkhead in the captain's office. If the custom officers would find the expensive glassware he could always say that a lot of people had access to his office....  The van Ommeren ship's agent in the States was participating in this profitable private business affair and arranged for the glassware to be taken ashore under cover of other stuff, for instance the ship's and crew's laundry and so passing the customs and guards at the gate. From the money the captain bought, like we did for personal on a more modest scale, lots of Long Playing records which were hard to get and very expensive in Holland as already explained. A double edged knife so to speak! Nice. It was the same captain whose put us on a rations as described earlier and where the word "Honger or "Hunger" was painted on both sides of the ship when entering the Rotterdam port. During WWII he married a British woman but his love for Britain or anything British was not reflected by his love for his wife. On the contrary. His standard joke to the British pilot in the Manchester Shipping Canal was telling them: "Would it not be a great idea to cover this canal. You would have the biggest sewer in the world then!" Without any exception not a single pilot enjoyed the joke, but that was the idea. Just to irritate the poor man. His wife was of small stature but a stout woman and the only one he would put him in his place when necessary. He loved to play cards, well cards, only bridge. He was a real fanatic at that and did not like to loose. Everybody dreaded to become his partner as you we insulted from the beginning until the end of game, calling you names if you made a wrong move. Only when his wife was onboard and his bridge partner he was very quiet suddenly. Some of the bridge competitions lasted for months and in the end everybody was reluctant to play another game any more. Since that time, on other ships, I always said that I could not play bridge or any other card game and that I did not want to learn it either.  A way of self protection. However, I used to play a lot of chess on board the ships instead. 

Sailing from Europe with an empty ship we used to set course for the Azores and make an Ocean crossing towards North America from that point. The reason was that all tanks had to be cleaned spick and span and we needed good weather to Butter worth the tanks properly before arrival at the first loading port. Heading back to Europe we always 'great circled", that is following the shortest possible route from port A in North America to port B in Europe. It meant that we would steer a rather north to northeasterly course and that as a result we had to cope with a lot of bad to very bad weather. The Duivendrecht was a very seaworthy ship but with gales and even storms the small ship was sometimes almost turned upside down. During a storm waves from 10 to 14 or 15 meters were no exception and towering above bridge level. The ship would ride every wave beautifully but at the cost of tremendous pitching and rolling. It had a small flaw in it's stability in the sense that after a major roll it used to lay in that position for a little while before moving in the opposite direction again. At first that was a bit frightening but as nobody cared I soon got used to it. Everything and I mean everything not tied down would start to live a life of it's own and smash into walls, bulkheads or whatever. My very heavy typewriter with heavy rubber 'feet' which I usually put on the floor against the bulkhead as a bad weather precaution smashed to smithereens anyway one time. For fun we used to stand on the bulkhead for a moment or two when ship was lying on its side again. The chairs were bolted down to the deck with special ties. In the mess room aft the vertical edges of the tables could be moved upwards by a pulling a handle underneath the table. The idea was that moving things, like plates and sauce-tureens on the table would be held back by the protruding edges, but they took that hurdle easily under those conditions. What helped better was thoroughly wetting the table cloth with water. As a kind of anti slip measure. It was not nice but it helped. Eating soup was rather an experience in itself. You had to hold your plate horizontal with one hand all the time while eating with the other. But I must say that to most of us bad weather was not unwelcome, it was a change of scenery in the often boring ocean crossings. Also sprinting from the amidships to the mess room aft was considered as some sort of entertainment with a lot of crew members watching the outcome. Timing had to be perfect or you would be doused all the way to your skin. It was simple entertainment I must admit now and a bit childish too, but then it did not seem so. I used to sleep like a log with bad weather as balancing yourself all day wore you out. After having put up with these conditions for a long period I was told by my family that I had started to develop a peculiar wide legged walk also ashore! Unbelievable but true. Later when sailing on much bigger ships and in more favorable, often tropical weather conditions  I automatically lost that funny and awkward way of walking as it was not longer necessary to counter the ship's movement all day. Yes, the system adopts itself quite easily to changing conditions. When lying in Hamburg I was quite unexpectedly taken of the ms Duivendrecht and via Rotterdam sent to Cadiz in Spain were the next ship the sts 'W. Alton Jones'  was lying in dry dock. I was expected to sail within a couple of days. I was to fly from Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam to Madrid and by train to Southern Spain, destination the city of Cadiz. Sounded exciting, I had never flown before, but what no leave again?

A little while before I joined the ship it was ordered to bring bunkers to the ms Dutch whale factory ship ms Willem Barendsz which was located in in the Antarctic area then. For the return trip of the ship 5000 tons of  whale oil was pumped from the whaler to the ms Duivendrecht. I heard the stories from people on board who had been present during that trip. Our country had been efficiently ransacked and plundered for five full years by the Nazi hordes. In the era just after WWII the number of whales in the oceans were still high and because of the war the cattle stock in Holland was very small which caused an enormous shortage, apart from meat, of oils and butter. The same was true for vegetables oils. Whale oil was used to produce for instance margarine. I have an interesting eye witness report of Cor van der Velde, who was a sailor on board the ms Duivendrecht during that trip. I am afraid it is in Dutch only for the moment.


The Van Ommeren Office building in the middle of the Rotterdam shipping quarter as it was pictured in about 1970. The flat roof on top of the building was meant as a heliport, but an operating license was always refused. In the background is the Holland America Line office building at the tip of the small HAL peninsula. The passenger ship is probably the Maasdam or Rijndam. I sailed on both these ships later on. As the Van Ommeren ship names always ended with the word 'drecht' (Drecht is a river and Duivendrecht is also a city on the river Drecht), the HAL ship names always ended with the word 'dam'. The Euro mast is in the front of the picture. A little bit to the right before the trees, out of sight here and near the waterfront was the famous café called 'Ballentent'. 

Sailors in those days returning from a trip went to the office of Van Ommeren to receive their wages in cash. Most of them stepped out the office and headed straight for the almost next door 'Ballentent' and had themselves a big party. Lots of money changed hands in this place. I have seen sailors who were on board for a year and wanted to stay ashore for a couple of months. They had received a handsome amount of money at the office. But four days later when the ship left port they were quite unexpectedly present again. Not a penny left!  The café is still there I saw the other day.