KJCPL / RIL, M.S. Straat Banka & Tjinegara – 1952/51 to 1978 – Deck Plans

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Author, Lecturer & Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer

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 1,350 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!



KJCPL / RIL Passenger-Cargo Liners


Kon. Java-China-Paketvaart Lijnen. N.V. (KJCPL)

M.S. Straat Banka

& her Sister - M.S. Tjinegara


A magnificent painting of the M.S. Straat Banka by N. M. Peeters of the Netherlands

The painting above may not be copied for any media as it is under © 2011 by N. M. Peeters


Please Note: Photographs and other images are from the author’s private collection, unless otherwise noted!

In 1948, the “Koninklijke Java/China Paketvaart Lijnen” (KJCPL) or te “Royal Interocean Lines” ordered two beautifully designed streamlined Passenger-Cargo-Liners to be built.

These Passenger-Cargo liners were ordered for by KJCPL to operate on their extensive worldwide services, and they would be completed late 1951 and early 1952, the first being the M.S. Straat Makassar, which was later renamed M.S. Tjinegara in 1956.

The second of the pair was the very popular M.S. Straat Banka, and this is the ship being mostly featured on this site, although the Straat Makassar’s basic details will also be covered.

The Dutch 9,138 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) passenger-cargo liner, to be operated under the popular banner of the Royal Interocean Lines, M.S. Straat Banka was built by the Piet. Smit Jr Shipyards in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 1952. In addition her mighty Engines were also constructed by this company and she was fitted by the powerful “Burmeister & Wain” diesel engines.

Here we the engine close to completion and ready to the loaded into the ship


The M.S. Straat Makassar is seen close to completion at her fit-out berth

Finally when all the work in the yard had been completed, the Straat Banka was made ready for launching, the day was set. Now on December 22, 1951 with dignitaries present this fine ship was officially launched and christened ‘Straat Banka’ and she slowly slipped down into the water.


Above and below: Here we see the launching of the Straat Banka, as the bottle of Champagne smashed against her hull

And below we see this fine ship slip down the slipway into the water for the very first time



The two ships were delivered as follows:

1: M.S. Straat Makassar: Once completed she was delivered to KJCPL on August 18, 1951 and she was placed on the India to Australia service. Departing from Bombay bound for Melbourne, sailing via Asia and the east coast of Australia, returning via the South and the West coast of Australia and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

For interest having received a refit, in July 1956 the Straat Makassar received a name change, and she was renamed M.S. Tjinegara.

2: M.S. Straat Banka: Having been completed she undertook her extensive deep-sea trails, and from the photograph I have below, and as you will see she did this whilst her holds were completely empty, thus she was riding high in the water.

The new M.S. Straat Banka is seen during her Sea Trails

2: M.S. Straat Banka was delivered to her owners on May 16, 1952 and when she when she was fully stored up, and manned she commenced her scheduled voyages as follows;

Departing, Yokohama sailing via Nagoya, Kobe, Pusan (optional), Naha (optional), Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Swettenham, Penang, Mauritius, Lourenço Marques, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Rio Grande (optional), Montevideo and concluding at Buenos Aires. Her return voyage being: Buenos Aires, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador/Recife (optional), Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London (optional), Durban, Mauritius, Singapore, Manila (optional), Hong Kong, Kobe and Yokohama.

It would be later that their routes were altered and the Straat Banka would be placed on India to Australia service, whilst the Straat Makassar/ Tjinegara would take over the Straat Banka’s earlier service, being the Yokohama to Buenos Aires service, thus their schedules were completely reversed!

Well Designed Ships:

Straat Banka was a well built ship and she had an attractive and a perfectly balanced amidships superstructure which accommodated just 48 First Class passengers in sheer comfort. She was so popular that many Australian passengers would book a return voyage on her, as they would enjoy an extended voyage, looking forward to many exciting ports, filled with great adventure and a voyage filled with the company’s famed great service, excellent cuisine and the ships comfort!

This is an early release postcard of the M.S. Straat Banka as she commenced her new duties

The M.S. Straat Banka was without a doubt a beautifully balanced ship, wherever she and her sister went, all who loved ships would come dockside and photograph them!

She certainly offered the best possible passenger facilities, with the finest of her accommodations being two spacious Deluxe Staterooms located forward on B Deck, each having three large windows, two looking forward and one larger one on the side of the ship that could be opened for fresh air. The Deluxe Staterooms had twin beds, but these could be made up as a double bed, which was very new for those days, the lounge area had four large comfortable fully upholstered chairs and two coffee tables. There were bedside tables and a desk with a mirror. There was a walk in wardrobe with a spacious bathroom with a  full bathtub with an overhead shower, and every possible facility! Obviou8sly, one of these Staterooms was located on the starboard side and the other on the portside.

The balance of cabins was equally divided between single and twin-bedded cabins, but each had private facilities with a shower, WC and basin, etc. However, in the hallway there were a number of bathrooms with bathtubs for those who preferred to take a bath! Every cabin had a large dressing table with drawers and two side cupboards, a large mirror and a seat as well as chairs and spacious wardrobes! In addition all cabins has a connecting door, thus they could be sold to families meaning a twin cabin could be sold with a single if a child was travelling for a family of three. Alternatively two twin bedded cabins could be sold together for four travelling together.

Amidships on B Deck was the Hairdresser and the Baggage Room, whilst the Pursers office was located forward next to the Main stairwell up to A Deck or Promenade Deck, the location of the delightful Lounge overlooking the bow, the Bar on the portside and a library on the starboard side with tables and chairs where passengers could comfortably read a book! Aft on A Deck was a well designed Dining Room seating all passengers in one sitting. Running along the side the Lounge forward was glass enclosed Promenade Deck and it was the perfect place to sit and relax to have a coffee and cake well out of the wind on a windy day! Far aft of the spacious Promenade Deck there was a spacious deck space for sports facilities. In addition, stairs up to Boat Deck there was the aft section of that deck, it commenced from just aft of the forward lifeboats and it gave additional space for sun baking that was the thin g to do in those days!

Photo Album


A starboard impression of the Straat Banka

The above image of the Straat Banka was painted by & is © Mr.Robert Bersma


1. Straat Banka’s Facilities


The cover of a 1952 Deck Plan


This is the cover of the RIL Passenger List handed to passengers onboard M.S. Straat Banka & Tjinegara


The Lounge forward on A Deck, looking to starboard


The Lounge and the main stairwell, looking to port



Above and below: Just aft of the Lounge, portside was the delightful bar 



Again aft of the Lounge, but starboard was the Library



Above & Below: Aft on A Deck was the delightful Dining Room with floor to ceiling windows



Here we see a beautiful Menu cover from 1961 that opens like a door


Here we see the forward section of the port side of the B Deck passageway to the cabins - looking aft


The engine room


2. The Ship


Here we see her ready to load Circo (Circus) Brasil bound home for South America


M.S. Straat Banka glides into yet another port

Her Refit and being operated by Royal Interocean Lines

In 1961 she was refitted and passenger numbers decreased by 7 to 40 and a swimming pool was added aft on A Deck as can be seen on the Cabin Plan on Page Two.

Upon completion she would be operated by Royal Interocean Lines, which had their head offices in Hong Kong. As many will know there was a large fleet of ships in operation and the Straat Banka now commenced on her new service that saw her visiting the following ports; Bombay, Cochin/Alleppey, Colombo, Penang, Singapore, Djakarta, Brisbane, Sydney and concluding at Melbourne. Then she would return Via Adelaide, Fremantle (Perth), Java, Singapore, Malacca, Port Swettenham, Penang and returning to Bombay. Many Australians would join her in whichever city they lived in and do the entire voyage as an extended Circle Asia Cruise!

 The elegant looking Royal Interocean Lines M.S. Straat Banka


Aft on A Deck was the new Swimming Pool that was fitted in 1961

Photograph by & © Robert Bersma


Straat Banka seen toward the end of her RIL days


Here is a rare view; the M.S. Straat Banka is seen forward and the Tjinegara aft in Sydney Australia

 Photograph by & © Robert Bersma

With changes in the wind, the company had decided that they would sell the Straat Banka and thus on August 19, 1971 she was sold to Mercury Shipping Co based in Singapore who renamed her Mercury Lake. As she was in Sydney she had just disembarked all her passengers, and she sailed without any passenger’s non-stop for Singapore where she was to take on her new facade. Upon arrival she was placed at anchor and she soon received her name to her hull, but she had not as yet been reregistered, thus Amsterdam still remained until registration was completed. They commenced repainting her funnel yellow, in order to add a Mercury logo.

Here we see the renamed Mercury Lake with a partial yellow funnel with a Mercury logo added to the original

Photograph by & © Robert Bersma

Soon enough the company had her registered her in Liberia and she was ready to commence her services. It is from here, that sadly there is little to no actual information available on her, or the M.S. Tjinegara’s services with this company, it has been said by some that they were used as full time cargo ships only. However, that seen rather strange for PIL who were well known as a Passenger Cargo operator, and they had a reasonable second hand fleet of ships over the years that had passengers and some of these operated on the Singapore to Australia service! But, I am unable to locate any information, thus I assume they were used within Asia.

Seven years later this once fine passenger cargo liner, a ship that gave so much joy to countless of thousands of happy passengers, who enjoyed their voyages on this wonderful ship was sadly sold to Chinese ship breakers in 1978. Soon after the sale she sailed under her own power for Shanghai where she arrived on September 30, 1978 and she was soon broken up, at just 26 years young!

What Happened to the Tjinegara?

Here we see the delightful M.S. Tjinegara

Photographer unknown – Please see photo notes at bottom of page

In brief, the M.S. Tjinegara was also sold to Mercury Shipping Co, but in 1972 and she was renamed Mercury Bay and like her sister she was also registered in Liberia, although we know little of her services but five years later in 1977 the same fate befell her as she was sold to Balmoral Maritime Inc, of Singapore and was renamed United Ensign, but they sold her on to Pakistani Ship Breakers. In due course she headed for Karachi where she arrived on December 19, 1978 and she was finally broken up at the Gadani breakers yards early in 1979.

And with the United Ensign, ex Mercury Bay, Tjinegara, built as the M.S. Straat Makassar and her sister M.S. Straat Banka came an end of two wonderfully designed and built Dutch luxury Classic Passenger Cargo Liners!



SPECIFICATIONS: 1. Straat Makassar - 2. Straat Banka.

Please Note:         Straat Makassar was renamed Tjinegara in 1956.

Built by:                 Shipyard Piet Smit Jr. Shipyard in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; 1. 1951 – 2. 1952.

Hull #:                   1. 600 – 2. 601.

Call Sign:                1. PHTM - 2. PHTL.

Launched:               1. July 17, 1951.

.                            2. December 22, 1951.

Delivered:               1. August 18, 1951.

.                            2. May 16, 1952.

Tonnage:                1. 8,951 GRT, 6,279 Net tons, 9,535 Dead weight.

.                            2. 9.033 GRT, 6.631 Net tons, 9.436 Dead weight.

Length:                   143.78m – 472ft.

Width:                    19.39m – 64ft.

Draught:                 11.50m – 28.10ft.

Engines:                 Single 9 Cylinder Burmeister & Wain Diesel Engines by P. Smit - 740 x 1600.

Screws:                  One.

Speed:                   16 knots service speed, 17 knots maximum.

Passengers:             1. 40 – 2. 48 (as built).

.                            1. 44 (After refit & renaming as Tjinegara 1956)

.                            2. 40 (after 1961 refurbishment).



To view a little life on this delightful ship

Enter this: Video of life on board the passenger-cargo ship M.S. Straat Banka in 1964.


Concluding Photographs of the M.S. Tjinegara & the Straat Banka


The wonderful M.S. Tjinegara, originally built as the Straat Makassar in 1951


A wonderful photo of a fine classic Passenger-Cargo ship



Farewell Straat Banka, you were indeed a Good & Faithful Ship and Close to My Heart!



M.S. Straat Banka … A luxury 48 passenger-cargo liner, and her sister.


Straat Banka 2 … Her 1952 & 1961 Deck Plans.


Part One M.S. Boissevain, M.S. Tegelberg & M.S. Ruys; 1937/38 to 1942.


Part Two … Their trooping years and their commercial years - 1942 to 1968.


Part Three … Deck Plan, Brochures & Schedules, and Memorabilia.


M.S. Tjiwangi & Tjiluwah Royal Interocean Lines’ Elegant Yachts.


SS Nieuw Holland & Nieuw Zeeland ... Two Grand Old Dames of the Sea.



“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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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 only be found on www.ssmaritime.com), in order that due credit may be given.


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