Dutch Victory Ships - S.S. Zuiderkruis, Groote
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“The Dutch Victory Trio”
S.S. Zuiderkruis - Groote
S.S. Zuiderkruis seen at anchor in 1962
Note: Photographs are either from the
author’s private collection, or from those as stated or other sources.
Three Victory Class ships, S.S.
Cranston Victory, S.S. Costa Rica Victory and the S.S. La Grande Victory, were
built for the “United War Shipping Administration” as troop and
cargo ships. Their war time duties were short lived as they were soon sold to
the Dutch Government for the use as troop transport ships and Migrant ship to
the United States,
and New Zealand.
These three ships were built
toward the end of World War II, and were part of the new larger improved
version of the famed “Liberty”
ships. Each ship had strengthened hulls for them to go into the war zone, but
by the time they were completed the war was coming to an end.
There were ninety seven Victory troop
transport ships built, each able to transport up to 1600 troops. Unlike the Liberty
ships, all accommodation was fully ventilated and heated. There was the usual
meagre style troop bunks, a hospital, galleys, washrooms and even a several
1944 US Victory class-freighter
The first of the trio, S.S. Cranston Victory
(Zuiderkruis) was built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Yard in Portland; Oregon
was launched on May 5, 1944. The second of the series, S.S. Costa Rica Victory (Groote
was built by Permanente Metals Co, Richmond
and launched on June 17, 1944. The last of the three was the S.S. La
Grande Victory (Waterman), which like her sister S.S. Cranston Victory, was
built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Yard in Portland,
and launched on January 16, 1945.
sister of the Dutch Trio, S.S. Maritime Victory seen whilst laid-up
with thanks to www.armed-guard.com/ag16.html
Tonnage: 9.126 GRT (Costa Rica Victory
Length: 455ft (136.7m).
Width: 62ft (18.9m).
Draught: 20.6ft (10.5m).
Engines: Cross-compound Steam Turbines
with double reduction gears developing 6,000 BHP.
Speed: 17 knots.
S.S. Cranston Victory was operated by the
South Atlantic Steamship Co for the US Maritime Commission. S.S. Costa Rica
Victory was managed by the American Hawaiian Steamship Co (New York).
S.S. La Grande Victory was managed by Shepard
Steamship Co. However, their operations was short lived, all were laid up and
placed on the market in 1946.
All three ships were purchased in
1947 by the Dutch Government as troopers to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia),
and later to Dutch New Guinea. On their return voyages to the Netherlands
Zuiderkruis transported those who wished to leave the former Dutch East Indies as
Waterman the troop ship seen in Rotterdam.
One of her sisters is seen astern
and below: 1950 – S.S. Zuiderkruis (Southern Cross) & Groote
(Big Bear) seen prior their rebuilding
In 1951, they were sent in turn
to the Netherlands Dry-Dock Shipyards Company in Amsterdam
to be rebuilt for general passenger use. An extra deck was added and the bridge
was moved on top and placed forward. Their original accommodations were gutted
and cabins were fitted to accommodate up to 830 passengers. The Cranston
Victory, renamed Zuiderkruis at her new tonnage of 9,178-tons, entered her new
service in June 1951, sailing from Rotterdam to New York, with her
next voyage being to Canada.
Then in August she departed with around 800 migrants for New Zealand.
S.S. Zuiderkruis seen after her rebuilding in 1951
Waterman arrives in Sydney
- December 1951
The Costa Rica Victory renamed Groote Beer made three voyages to Australia
before her reconstruction. Her reconstruction commenced in November of 1951.
Now at her new tonnage of 9,190-tons she commenced services in May 1952. In
November 1951, the third of the trio, La Grande Victory, renamed Waterman, was
completed and at 9,176-tons, commenced her first voyage to Australia.
Their schedules varied from Trans
Atlantic voyages and sailings to Australia
and New Zealand.
Zuiderkruis was managed by the Netherland line, the Groote Beer by Holland America Line, and Waterman
by Royal Rotterdam Lloyd, but on the North American services also by Holland
America Line according passenger Bert
who sailed on her from Rotterdam to Halifax
S.S. Waterman’s Collision
COLLIDE IN ATLANTIC - March 15,
1957. The 9,177-ton Dutch ship S.S. Waterman, carrying 800 emigrants,
including 312 Hungarian refugees to Canada,
collided with the Italian ship S.S. Merit mid-Atlantic yesterday. The Waterman
radioed there was no immediate danger and said the 7,174-ton steamship Merit
was also safe.”
The Waterman departed her
homeport of Rotterdam
on March 13, 1957, and the very next morning the Italian freighter S.S. Merit
rammed the port stern section of the Waterman during a heavy foggy morning. The
ships quickly separated and the Captain of the Waterman called all passengers
to their lifeboat stations with lifejackets on ready to abandon ship if need
be, whilst his engineers were inspecting the damage.
Below is an account by a Hungarian
passenger, who gave an excellent description of the
“We departed on the S.S. Waterman from Rotterdam
on March 13, 1957 and on the first night we settled in and had a very nice meal
and found our way around the ships. Then the next morning, the 14th, we
just had our breakfast at the first sitting, which was the sitting for all the
refugees on board and as we were part of the Hungarian group on board we
always went to that sitting. The Dutch Passengers went to the second sitting.
This had nothing to do with segregation or anything, but the language problems,
and also, they did provide us with a more Eastern European style menu, whilst
the Dutch had a menu more suited to their diet.
It was certainly a foggy morning, and as we the Hungarian
passengers already had our breakfast, with the Dutch passengers, having the
second shift, they were either would have been getting ready for it or
having a walk around. But suddenly around 8.15 to 8.20, I think, there
came a huge bang, for something big had hit us at the stern of the
ship, which was strange. After the impact, the distress call went out and
everyone had to proceed, with our life jackets on to the deck where
lifeboats were already being released. As we were about to get into
them, an order came from the captain on the bridge that we could return to
our quarters and return our lifejackets and go about our regular business.
It turned out that after an extensive inspection, it was
determined that the damage was high enough above the waterline that we could
either limp back to Brest, France, which at that time was the nearest port to
our then location. When we arrived we were transferred to the already awaiting S.S. Zuiderkruis,
where we were placed in equivalent cabins, as the two ships are identical.
We made a successful, although a very choppy crossing to Halifax,
arriving at the end of March. It was certainly an eventful voyage and not one
but two ships!
I must also add that our last six weeks prior to our voyage,
we spent time in Holland, courtesy of
the Dutch Government. We were made most comfortable with room and board and
were treated with the utmost respect. We gratefully remember our stay there. Anna Nadler.”
Anna also sent the following photograph which was taken by a
photographer in Brest France.
damage done to the S.S. Waterman by the Italian freighter S.S. Merit
provided by Anna
The story continues with another
item that was sent to me, that provides further details of this event!
Lists with – Hugo
Eleven year old Hugo Schouten, his parents, brother and sister
sailed from Rotterdam to Melbourne
on the S.S.
on October 25, 1958. Hugo
who now lives in Adelaide
has a webpage online covering his voyage on the Groote
and other passenger stories, as well as various passenger lists that he has
online. To visit Hugo's
page and passengers lists see the INDEX at the bottom of the page!
In 1961, the Dutch
Government formed their own company “Trans
all three ships were transferred to this new company, although each ship
continued to be managed by the same shipping two companies as before.
Groote Beer in Fremantle Australia
In 1961 the ships facilities were vastly
improved to become more of a genuine Tourist Class status, thus encouraging a
better passenger trade for the truth being, the migrant trade was rapidly
declining and now these ships needed to be more suitable for the tourist trade,
and this is what they now sought out! Both The Groote Beer and Waterman
continued sailing the Atlantic as well as to Australia and New Zealand.
Waterman seen at anchor
unknown – See photo notes at bottom of page!
S.S. Groote Beer seen around 1962
unknown – See photo notes at bottom of page!
The Groote Beer was
chartered for the Commonwealth Games in 1962, which was held in Perth (Western
Australia), and she was berthed in the nearby port of Fremantle
and used as an accommodation ship.
and M.S. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt
seen stern to stern in Fremantle serving
as accommodation ships during the
1962 Commonwealth Games there
The Waterman departed Rotterdam on September 26, 1962 sailing via Port Said (Egypt) and Djibouti for Pulo
(Island off Singapore),
Hollandia (then “Netherlands New Guinea”)
and Biak (today’s Indonesia).
She returned from Biak via Singapore Roads, Djibouti and Port Said arriving back in Rotterdam
on November 25, 1962.
Waterman is seen departing Rotterdam
on September 26, 1962 for New Guinea
van der Bos,
Then in January 1963 the Waterman made her
final voyage to Australia
and New Zealand.
Finally in 1963, all three ships were sold by the Dutch Government.
S.S. Zuiderkruis Final
In October 1963 the Zuiderkruis was handed
over to the “Royal Netherlands Navy” for the use as an
accommodation and a store ship. She was berthed at Den Helder a City in North Holland, being the northernmost point
of the peninsula, and the country's main naval base; she was given the
registration No A853.
She was finally taken out of commission and
sold in October 1969 to Spanish breakers at Bilbao.
The Zuiderkruis was taken under tow to Bilboa, where
she arrived on November 27, 1969, and she became the first of the “Dutch
Victory Trio” to be broken up.
Farewell old friend - S.S.
S.S. Waterman & Groote Beer told to Greece:
In 1963 both the Waterman and Groote
were sold to John
shipping Group of Greece
being a family owned Shipping Company. The Waterman was renamed “Margareta”
and the Groote
Beer seen having been chartered from the “Latsis
The Waterman, having been renamed
the "Margareta", departed from Greece and headed for
Tokyo in May/June 1968, having arrived there she was placed on two
cruises; the first cruise being from Japan to Los Angeles and
Honolulu, whilst the second being from Japan to Honolulu and San Francisco.
Upon her return from the second cruise, the S.S. Margareta was
laid up in Japan.
But sadly she finally became the second of the
“Trio” to be scrapped by ship breakers in Onomachi,
S.S. (Groote Beer) Marianna IV
In 1964 the S.S.
was chartered by the Netherlands
from June to September to operate the “Atlantic Educational
Program” for four round voyages between Rotterdam
They had also planned ths ame
charter for 1966, but this was cancelled. For the Educational Programme the Marianna IV was renamed “Groote
once again, but remained under the Greek flag. Holland America Line acted as her
agents. Although she was returned to Latsis Shipping
Group after her fourth return voyage, strangely enough she retained the name
Groote Beer” until 1969 when she was renamed “Marianna
once again. Latsis also used her for student voyages
during the summer months from the UK.
As the S.S. Groote
Beer was departing on July 12
1966, she collided with a sand dredger named the “Pen Avon” just of
the Isle of Wight. She returned to Southampton, where basic repairs were undertaken and she
then headed for Greece,
where no repairs were done, but she was simply laid up at
Bay, near Piraeus.
Then in 1970 the S.S. Marianna IV (ex
was sold and in 1971 she became the last of the famed three “Dutch
Victory Ships” to be broken up, which was done locally at Eleusis,
Historian, Author, Lecturer & Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer.
Years in the Passenger Shipping & Cruise Industry.
of “Save the Classic Line Campaign” in 1990. (Now
Please note: I
wish to thank Mr.
Kenyon for providing me
with some additional notes regarding the final days of the S.S. Groote Beer and the Waterman, then the (Latsis Shipping) S.S. Margareta’s
Page One … The history of these three ships.
Page Two … Ships – General Photo Album.
Page Three … Theo Kroon Story - They
sailed from Amsterdam
to Wellington - September
1956 - Lots of great photos!
Page Four … Passenger List for the S.S.
on January 16, 1957. Provided by passenger Simon de Vente
– Two other (S.S. Waterman) passenger lists are also available on THIS
page via links provided.
Page Five … Here is another passenger list, but
this time for the S.S. Zuiderkruis
sailing from Holland
to New Zealand
She departed on December 9, 1960. It was kindly provided by Mr. Gabriel-Bosch.
Page Six … S.S. Groote Beer Passenger
Lists from 1951 to 1962.
… S.S. Groote Beer
Passenger List for those disembarking at Wellington
on September 19, 1951.
Page Seven … Passenger Dr. Barbara Wollman sailed in 1955 on the S.S. Groote Beer from New York to Rotterdam
and returned on the Zuiderkruis.
Eight … Bob ter Haar
kindly provided the passenger list of his voyage on the S.S. Zuiderkruis from
Amsterdam to Australia,
January 16, 1959. He came to Australia
with his family.
Nine … This
is the story of soldier Frank Lovell who finally returned home, having fought
so many battles during WW2 throughout many parts of Europe on the S.S. Costa
Rica Victory, (later the Groote Beer) in September 1945. The three parts are by
himself in his Dairy, and myself using Mary’s
notes. This page has countless actual photographs of the Costa Rica Victory,
most of which Frank
took on board!
Other Passenger lists currently available
List dated 25 April, 1955
S.S. Waterman departed from Rotterdam
on Friday April 1, 1955
“Blue Water Liners
sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”
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