Royal Holland Lloyd  S.S. Gelria - 1913 - renamed Gradisca in 1935 to 1950

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Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned, thus ssmaritime is NOT associated with any shipping company or any other organisation! Although the author has worked and been involved in the passenger shipping industry for well over 60 years, but due to his old age and poor health, he was forced to retire. Yet, he has completed well over 1,360 Classic Liners, Passenger-Cargo Liners as well as humble converted C3 converted Migrant Liners, which has transported countless thousands folk to the new world, as well on vacations’. I trust the features online will continue to provide Classic Liner and Ship enthusiasts both the information they are seeking, but more so provide a great deal of pleasure and relive many happy memories!

 

A fine colour version of the S.S. Gelria is seen just after having been built

 

Please Note: Postcards, photographs & other images are from the author’s private collection, unless stated otherwise.

A special thank you to ssmaritime supporters for their kind assistance. 

A short History of the Royal Holland Lloyd:

The company was founded in 1899 in order to transported cattle and cargo between Amsterdam and South America. However, the cattle trade ended in 1903 due to the British Government prohibiting the import of live cattle due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Argentina. Thus the company changed their plans as in 1906 they commenced passenger, mostly emigration voyages from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires.

The company's roots lie in “Zuid-Amerika Lijn” (ZAL) the “South America Line”, which was founded in Amsterdam in 1899 and they transported cattle and cargo between Amsterdam and South America. However, the cattle trade ended in 1903 due to the British Government prohibiting the import of live cattle due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Argentina. Thus the company changed their plans and in 1906 they commenced passenger, mostly migrant voyages from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires.

ZAL was dissolved in 1908 after it found itself in financial difficulties. At the instigation of the “Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij”, the “Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd” (KHL) or the “Royal Holland Lloyd” (RHL) was founded as the new company filled with better capital resources.

The official “Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd” logo

They built an amazing and an impressive fleet of Passenger-Cargo liners in fact by 1914 the company had five magnificent passenger ships with a tonnage between 7,291 and 13,911 GRT (Gross Registered Tons). Their names were ”Hollandia”, “Frisia”, “Zeelandia”, “Gelria” and the short lived “Tubantia” as well as four cargo ships whose names all ended in … “land”.

Identical sister ship to the Gelria, is the S.S. Tubantia

In 1913/14 they built their two finest passenger-cargo liners both offered exceptional luxurious accommodations and the most suburb pubic venues, especially in First and Second Classes. For several years these ships also made calls to New York. Sadly all passenger services concluded in 1935, but the company continued operating a cargo operation to South America. The company continued, but today they have been long incorporated into the “NEDLLOYD” group.

S.S. Gelria - 1913 to 1935:

The “Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd” or the “Royal Holland Lloyd” newest liner was built by Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd, Glasgow Scotland. She was christened “Gelria” and launched on May 20, 1913, once in the water tugs towed her to the company’s fit-out berth for her to be finished. After her completion she undertook her successful deep sea and speed trials when she achieved an excellent 17.5 knots, after which she was delivered to her owners on October 8, 1913.

The S.S. Gelria is seen at her speed trials on a postcard released by her builder

Having been fully crewed and stocked up the fine looking luxury two funnelled, two mast 13,868 GRT (Gross Registered Ton) liner was ready to depart for her maiden voyage on November 5, 1913, from Amsterdam bound for South American ports.

S.S. Gelria is seen at the ready for her maiden voyage on November 1913

The writing at the side simply states that this was her first voyage on the said date

Thank you for sending it Jan van Staveren, NL

 

S.S. Gelria is seen at Amsterdam

Thank you again Jan van Staveren

Her schedule was as follows: Amsterdam, Southampton, Cherbourg, Vigo, Lisbon, Las Palmas, Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and return.

As built the S.S. Gelria had accommodations for a total of 1.444 passengers, being made up as follows; 235 First, 224 Second and 135 in Third Class, also 900 in Steerage, looking after them was a crew of 330.

A Royal Holland Lloyd promotional poster

There was no doubt at all that the Gelria in her day was an extremely luxurious ship in fact it was so much so that the British publication “Shipping Illustrated’ declared that she was “the ship of the year”.

Her public venues were simply spectacular, a lounge decorated in an empire style with amazing Dutch style, with a raised gallery for an orchestra playing; there was also a luxurious smoking room. And there was something that was generally not heard of on ships in those days, there was a telephone in all First Class super comfortable cabins.

Thus her facilities, in both First and also Second Class was beyond the best available at sea, except for one fine colour artist impression of the Social Hall, most of the other photographs  are not the best images to show you the magnificence of this amazing ship, for sadly all I have available are very much of a lesser quality, but they will give you some idea of the luxury on board.

Part of a brochure released in 1914 after the release of the “Tubantia”

First Class Photo Gallery:

An artist impression of the grandiose Social Hall, see a small photo of this venue below left

The artist was Johan Briede

 

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Left: The Social Hall & Right: The multi level Dining Room

 

The huge two level Smoking Room

 

A typical outside Cabin

 

Promenade Deck

 

Like most liners there is always a doctor’s office and an Infirmary

 

The Gelria seen at full speed ahead along the South American coast

She was fitted with two 4 cylinder quadruple expansion steam engines providing an excellent service speed of 16 knots. Although carrying a large number of passengers, she also had four cargo holds, 2 forward and 2 aft and she had a grain capacity of 338.000 cubic ft, and a bale capacity 357.000 cubic ft.

The S.S. Gelria was laid up at Amsterdam from March 1916 after newer sister ship S.S. Tubantia whilst on a scheduled voyage from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires on March 15, 1916, with very few passengers on board was torpedoed by the Germans on March 16, 1916 and she sank. The Gelria remained in lay-up until March 1919.

The Gelria is seen berthed in Amsterdam

On March 12, 1919 the S.S. Gelria commenced her very first post-war voyage from Amsterdam to South American ports.

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French 1919 Passenger list

In 1920 she operated luxury cruises to Madeira and the Mediterranean. However in 1921 she was chartered for a single voyage to the Rotterdam Lloyd for a voyage to the Dutch East Indies, today’s Indonesia. In addition she offered short voyages from the UK to or from Las Palmas, Portugal, Spain and Holland of course. As well as luxury cruises to Madeira and the Mediterranean.

 

Above: The 1920 luxury Cruise brochure & Below: The Short Voyages brochure

Thank you for sending it Jan van Staveren, NL

 

 

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Left: A German sailing schedule & Right: An English, French, Dutch & German sailing schedule from 1927

The S.S. Gelria was without a doubt one of the most popular ships in Europe and the UK at that time, in fact she was favoured by many famous people, for example, on January 27, 1927, the much loved British queen of crime, “Agatha Christie” had booked a “Suite de-luxe” and boarded the Gelria at Southampton and she sailed across the Atlantic in order to spend the winter in the Canary Islands, being one of the stops the ship made to South America. But there was an never ending list of the well known passengers. In addition to all the grandiose luxury of First and Second Class, in Steerage there would always be a variety of migrants looking for a new life, such as many refugees who were escaping Eastern Europe, such as Polish farmers and other poor, as well as Jews who suffered extreme anti-Semitism!

During the summer of 1928 Gelria headed to the Juliana Dock at the “Amsterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij” or the “Amsterdam Drydock Company” as KHL decided to convert her to being an oil-fired ship. At the same time her accommodations were reduced to a total of 1,287 passengers, made up as follows; 233 First, 350 Second and 704 in Third Class.

It may have been during the aforementioned refit, but it is not quite known when she was painted all white with a thin green ribbon surrounding her upper hull, but whenever this actually occurred she certainly looked magnificent as can be seen below the painting of her in drydock.

A painting of the S.S. Gelria in the Juliana dock

By the artist Jan van der Linde

 

S.S. Gelria looking really goody with her new livery

Thank you for sending it Rinus de Wit, NL

 

A fine bow shot of the S.S. Gelria

 

A delightful artist’s impression of the S.S. Gelria

Thank you for sending it Jan van Staveren, NL

As the world had gone into a deep depression, it was decided to lay her up again at Amsterdam on November 5, 1931.

However the S.S. Gelria was chartered in 1933 to the Argentinean government as they intended to use her as an exhibition ship and she headed for Buenos Aires. Sadly their plans fell through and thus she was returned from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam where she was again laid up on April 21, 1934, and she would never sail again for the “Royal Holland Lloyd”.

A New Owner and a New Name:

On August 29, 1935 she was sold to the Italian government and she was given a refit and when competed she was placed under the management of Lloyd Triestino S.A. di Navigazione, Trieste, and she was renamed “Gradisca”. She was used as a troop transport during the Italian Abyssinian war.

The Gradisca is seen during the Abyssinian war

In addition she made a number of voyages to East Africa. From 1940 she was used as a hospital ship during World War Two.

The Gradisca seen as a Hospital ship

On October 3, 1943, following the Italian capitulation the German Navy took her over whilst she was in the Mediterranean and was eventually used as a hospital ship.

On October 28, 1944 she was during a voyage from Salonika to Trieste with wounded, the Gradisca was held up by a British submarine, and she was taken to Alexandria. There were some 1,000 wounded on board who all disembarked at Alexandria, but the ship was taken to Algiers. After negotiations, due to her being a hospital ship she was returned to the Germans, but she never returned to German duties.

She became a British war prize after the war, and she was duly returned to her Italian owners and she was refitted and repainted all white again, yet they continued to use her as a troopship as she was suitable for the role to bring soldiers home.

The S.S. Gradisca is looking more of a passenger ship, but continues in her trooping role

However, during a voyage from Port Said to Malta and Toulon filled with troops the Gradisca ran aground on the east coast of Gavdo Island, Greece on January 23, 1946.

The Gradisca is seen aground on Gavdo Island in 1946

She was eventually salvaged and refloated on July 9, 1947, and was then laid up at Venice Italy until 1949, when she was sold to a local breaker to be broken up, which happened in 1950.

Specifications & General Details:

Call-Sign: …………………………… NSWM.

Names:……….………………………..Gelria - 1913 to 1935.

……………………………………………..Gradisca - 1935 to 1950.

Owners…………….…………………..Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd” - the “Royal Holland Lloyd - 1913 to 1935.

……………………………………………..Italian Government - 1935 to 1950.

Operators:….…………………………Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd” - 1913 to 1935.

……………………………………………..Lloyd Triestino - 1935 to 1943.

……………………………………………..German Navy - 1943 to 1945.

……………………………………………..Italian Government - 1945 to 1949.

……………………………………………..Breakers 1949 to 1950.

Built by: ……………………………… Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd., Glasgow, Scotland.

Vessel Type: …………………………Steel, two funnelled, two mast passenger cargo ship.

Launched:…………………………….May 20, 1913.

Delivered:…………………………… October 8, 1913.

Maiden Voyage:….……………….November 5, 1913.

Tonnage:……………………………..13.868 GRT, 8.121 NET, 8.260 DWT.

Length:………………….…………….170.68m - 541.1 ft.

Beam:…………………………………..20.05m - 65.8 ft.

Draught:……………………………….28.2 ft - 9.1 m.

Propulsion:…………………………..Two 4-cyl De Laval steam geared turbines - 44,500 kW (59,700 SHP) combined.

Propellers: …………………………..Two.

Speed:………………………………….16 knots service speed, maximum 17.5 knots.

Passengers:………………………….1,444 passengers - 235 First, 224 Second and 135 in Third Class, 900 in Steerage - as built.

........................................1,287 passengers - 233 First Class, 350 Second Class and 704 Third Class - after the 1928 refit.

Crew:…………………………………..330.

…………………………………………….No accommodation information available for the S.S. Gradisca.

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 Remembering the Delightful - S.S. Gelria

Of the “Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd” - the “Royal Holland Lloyd 

 

A fine artist’s impression of the S.S. Gelria

By an unknown artist

 

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 “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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