M.S. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, became the T.S.M.S. Lakonia in 1963

Please Note: Firefox & some other search engines may not suitable

Please use Google Chrome for this page to load perfectly!

Click the logo above to reach the ssMaritime FrontPage & the current Featured Ships


With Reuben Goossens

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

Please Note: All ssMaritime and 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 1,365 Classic Liners, Passenger-Cargo Liners as well as humble converted C3 converted Migrant Liners, which has transported countless thousands of 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!

 “Memories of the JVO

MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

Chapter One – Part One

The Pride of the Netherlands


Please Note: Due to the many photographs used on Chapter One, covering the first part of her life from her building and maiden voyage in 1930 until her being called for duties as a trooper in 1939, whilst updating it with so much new material I had to split Chapter One into Two Parts. I am sure that you will be more that happy with the results!

Reuben Goossens.

Introduction – m.s. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt & her sister the Marnix van St. Aldegonde:

The “Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland” (SMN) or the company became known worldwide, as the “Netherland Line” was set up in 1870 and grew into a major shipping company. By 1928 SMN was noted for some fine ships, especially their newest liner the 16,280 ton m.s. Christiaan Huygens. Directly after the Christiaan Huygens returned from her two day trails on January 28, 1928, SMN placed two further orders with the Amsterdam shipyards of the “Nederlandse Scheepsbouw Maatschappij.”

The first of the two sisters to be commenced was project number 194 and the second was project number 165. They would become the 89th and 90th ships to be built for the “Netherland Line” and also the most luxurious ever!

The keel for project number 194 was laid down on Friday, June 29, 1928 and was launched on Saturday August 3, 1929 by Jonkvrouw (Lady) W. Tegelberg-Hooft, the wife of the director of SMN. The ship was given a name honouring one of the greatest Dutch hero’s, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619) who was the Pensionary of the Netherlands during the rule of King Willem de Zwijger (Willem the Silent) and Prince Mauritis. He was the architect of Dutch independence from Spanish rule thus the co-founder of the State of the United Netherlands. He was also one of the founders of the ‘East India (shipping) Company.’

Photo Album ~ Building to Fitting-Out


The building of the JVO (left) and the Marnix (right)


Here we see her Sulser Diesel Engines, built in Winterthur Switzerland


Here we see the JVO ready to be launched on Saturday August 3, 1929


Lady W. Tegelberg-Hooft does the honours with many dignitaries surrounding her!


And the JVO slides down the slipway into the water with many of the workers ensuring all goes well

JVO’s sister ship, the m.s. Marnix van Sint Aldegonde was launched on December 21, 1929 by no one less that Crown Princess Juliana and as can be seen below she joined the JVO side by side once again for completion and then to be fitting out.

Here we see both the Marnix van Sint Aldegonde and the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

side by side during their completion and then for the fitting out process.

These two liners would differ greatly to the smaller ms Christiaan Huygens as they would far more luxurious and in comparison to their predecessor they would look grand and stately, having two additional decks in their superstructure as well as two funnels. For the Christiaan Huygens had what in reality looked like a rather pathetic stubby out of place looking single funnel.

The m.s. Christiaan Huygens built in 1928

Dimensions of the m.s. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt as built were as follows: 608 x 74.8ft (185.4 X 22.8m) with a gross tonnage of 19,428 tons, with a displacement of 24,993 tons. However, you will find that there is a far more detailed and comprehensive list located on this page.

At that time, they were the largest ever Dutch passenger liners to be built and they were certainly the most luxurious ships to be placed on the international trade route to the Dutch East Indies. She had a capacity for up to 9,000 tonnes of cargo, but what was interesting was that she had six pairs (12) of electric cranes as well as her forward mast and derricks to assist with the loading and unloading of cargo from her seven holds.

As built she offered four classes and for a ship of her size she certainly offered comfortable accommodations; commencing with the luxurious First Class, a an elegant Second Class, a Third class that was comfortable although simple, as well as a very rather basic Fourth class located far forward of the ship. thus the JVO and her sister carried a grand total of just over 720 passengers and a crew of 361 to care for them. Interestingly First, second and third classes had interchangeable cabins thus numbers between these classes could vary considerably, thus the maximum interchangeable number of passengers in each class shown in the specification section down the page are shown in brackets.

Johan van Oldenbarnevelt looked typical for her day when it came to colour scheme, having a black hull with a gleaning white superstructure with two British style stubby flat-topped funnels, painted yellow (buff) with black tops. Engine wise she had two “Sulzer diesel engines” built by the brothers Sulzer of Winterthur Switzerland, each having ten cylinders of 760mm bore and 1340mm stroke. Each engine produced 7,000bhp giving a respectable speed of 17 knots using her two propellers. A novel feature was the incorporation of a spark arrester, designed by SMN's engineer, Mr. Visker, which meant that there was no need for silencers.

Sea Trails:

When completed, she was ready to head off for her deep sea trails that commenced at 9am on March 13, 1930 as she departed Amsterdam and proceeded at a low speed through the North Sea Canal, finally reaching Ijmuiden and her goal the wide open of the North Sea.

Here we see the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt on the North Sea at full speed of 19 knots during her deep sea trails

The commenced with her engines running at 100rpm, then two hours later at the maximum of 115rpm and she reached a smooth and respectable maximum of 19 knots. The joyful news was that there were no vibrations detected whatsoever! Therefore her deep sea trails were a complete success and the ship was delivered to the “Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland” (SMN) and she was now ready for full her liner duties. But we will cover her maiden voyage and that of her sister the m.s. Marnix van Sint Aldegonde after the JVO’s interior description.

A special commemorative plate issued in 1930

m.s. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt’s First Class Public Venues:

There was no doubt that the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt had some of the most amazing due to the incredibly art and a high standard of craftsmanship that was found on her, for some of her lounges were extremely intricate, especially in both First and some of her Second Class public rooms! This section will describe them in full detail!

Let me commence saying that the famed artist Carel Adolph Lion Cachet (1864-1945) and sculptor Lambertus Zijl (1866-1947) created the sublime interiors of the JVO. In fact, Lion Cachet designed his very first SMN interior for the SS Grotius, back in 1906, and had since undertaken many other projects for the company. He took a great delight in using some of the most exotic timbers and then mixing them with a range of materials, from marble, polished shell to tin and other unique materials. Décor throughout the ship reflected the colonial links between the Netherlands with the Far East.

Whilst Lambertus Zijl created many fine sculptures and reliefs that were to be found throughout this amazing ship! His splendid artistry can be seen to this day ashore, including in many fine buildings in and around the historic City of Amsterdam.

This is the cover of the very first published JVO Deck Plan

Bridge Deck:

We will commence with her Bridge. It was the typical traditional style bridge of the 1930, there was the all important wheel, the telegraph and a compass, as well as that pipe phone, through which the captain or the officer of the watch could speak to the Engine room. But that was it. Yes there was radio, but it was most uncomplicated compared to today. Officers would go out onto the bridge wings and use their sextants to obtain the ships bearings on a regular basis!

The Bridge


Officers and juniors taking the ships bearings using their sextants


Now you check the bearing!

As built the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt had seven passenger decks that served four classes, but she offered a new level of comfort for the 1930s. Her deck space was vast and located up on Bridge Deck just aft of the Bridge and in front of the forward funnel the JVO featured a unique indoor/outdoor swimming pool having ample dressing rooms and showers as well a bar on the forward port-side. The pool had a unique sliding glass roof that would be opened upon reaching warmer climates. This was one of the first retractable pool enclosures on a liner, which has become a popular feature on the modern cruise ships. In 1998 the P&O Cruises and the Princess so-called “superliner,” the 109,000 tonne MV Grand Princess featured a three story high retractable “Clear Crystal Dome” over the Calypso Reef and Pool. The Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was without doubt the innovator for her time, be it on a smaller scale.

The wonderful Lido Swimming Pool was indeed a very special feature for its day!


The Lido Pool looking towards the dressing rooms


The Lido Pool looking aft, with the Lido Bar steward looking on, no Speedo’s in those days!


The Lido Bar was popular with the younger set


This was indeed a fine Pool, much later there would be an outdoor pool added far aft


Sun Deck surrounded the ship funnels and it was a popular area

Directly aft of the Lido Pool there was the spacious Sun Deck, then far aft was the First Class main Sports Deck having all the usual facilities for a variety of sports and activities.

Sports Deck


Here is another wonderful classic view of the JVO as she heads off for the East Indies

A (Boat) Deck:

This deck was mainly occupied with accommodations for the ships officers, including the Captain's quarters with a fully equipped hospital located aft.

B Deck:

B Deck was chiefly occupied with First Class cabins including several deluxe staterooms with private facilities and a terrace. It should be noted that each and every cabin on the JVO had a window or a porthole and these were very certainly very much needed in those days, especially when reaching the warmer climates. In the hull section there would be cabins that would today be as inside cabins, but the JCO was cleverly designed as these cabins actually had a narrow passage that would lead to the porthole, allowing both light and sufficient fresh air to reach into the cabin. Thankfully though, a little later in her career she was fitted with much needed fan forced air to all accommodations.

Forward there was also a spacious promenade deck partially glass enclosed. Far aft was the First Class children’s playroom and nursery, followed by a spacious deck space, with a division with the Second Class Sports Deck being located aft.

This one of the two deluxe staterooms with private facilities and veranda

There a few other semi-deluxe cabins with private facilities


The First Class Children’s Playroom and Nursery aft on B Deck


This is one of the paintings from this playroom and it can be clearly seen in the

photograph above to the right of the dark timber cabinet with another image above

C (Promenade) Deck:

Promenade Deck featured all First and Second Class Lounges as well as their spacious Promenade Deck for both these privileged passengers. Far forward was the sublimely elegant First Class Smoking Room that overlooked the ships bow.

The First Class Smoking Room

Asa you can see, the public rooms on the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt were elegantly decorated, be it in an Old World style, each featuring the very finest wooden panels and furniture hand crafted from the very best of sine timbers. This room featured polished marble (plain and sculptured) and this would also be featured in other First and Second Class lounges. Ceilings in the major First Class lounges featured rare red copper ceilings with various inlaid metals.

Like all the First Class public rooms, the Smoking Room was lined in exotic dark timbers, and sported carvings by Lambertus Zijl. This room also featured fine white marble inlays on the walls. The aft wall featured a carved timber relief of the bust of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and timber panels with a variety of carvings detailing insects and other animal life of the Indies. The ceiling was lined with this red beaten copper featuring elegant domed hand blown glass light fittings and large fans for cooling whilst in the tropics. Although this somewhat dark timbered Smoking Room it was quite brightly lit by four large arched panoramic windows overlooking the bow and smaller arched windows with a door in the centre on both port and starboard sides, as can be seen in the photograph above. Furnishings for all first class rooms were in rich ebony with interesting tin inlays, or there were heavy and beautifully upholstered lounge chairs. The floor was covered with heavy-duty rubber flooring, featuring an interesting (for its day) modernistic pattern.

First Class Smoking Room looking to port


A close up of the Smoking Room Carved timber and shell light detail


Another view of the Smoking Room and as can be seen, this was a lively and a popular place

This view reveals much more of the intricate detail of the art and carvings in this superb venue!

On the port side just aft of the Smoking Room, was the Reading and Writing Room, also known as the Ebony Room, as it featured ebony with white marble panels. Wall panels featured reliefs of two Javanese men and a variety of plant life from the region. The ceiling was painted a light colour with fine decorations, and simple but elegant light fittings and electric fans. Heavy lounge chairs gaily stripped and ebony chairs and tables completed the room. Several writing desks were also placed along the centre aft wall of the Smoking Room.

Portside Reading and writing Room

On the starboard side of the ship directly aft of the Smoking Room was a passageway as well a service bar that would serve drinks for the Smoking Room, Music Salon, as well as Promenade Deck day and night.

As we head aft again we would come to The Main foyer and grand stairwell up to B deck and down to F deck and the first class Restaurant. The fine timber stairwell and large vestibules on all decks gave an impression grace and of space. On the starboard side was the JVO's one and only passenger lift.

C Deck forward foyer and stairwell


The only passengers lift onboard


One of the wonderful Javanese waiters onboard at the entrance to the Social Hall


The Social Hall and Music Salon

The next venue as we head aft was Carel Adolph Lion Cachet masterpiece, the Music Hall or as it was also known, the Grand Social Hall. This unbelievably beautiful and rather grandiose Lounge was two decks in height and featured fine lead light windows on the sides of the upper level, which were lit from behind and were also a decorative feature up in the First Class passageways up on B deck. The ceiling of the Social Room was covered in beaten copper as well as four grand stainless steel stylised chandeliers that cascading down, but surrounded by globes.

This is just one of the many carvings


Corner decorations with one of the speakers

This room was lined in a fine padouk timbers and having superb dark stained teak doors that opened forward to the Main Foyer and the stairwell. This venue also featured countless panels with delicate carvings. One unique carving by Zijl was far forward located over the games cupboard having the name of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt carved in script form. Other carvings that lined the walls and side dividing partitions near the bay windows featured Javanese women, a variety of fauna and insects, which are found throughout Asia. The forward entrance doors had Johan van Oldenbarnevelt's coat of arms above them. Another most unusual feature of this room was a massive and a most valuable tapestry that completely covered the aft wall!

Looking forward for detail over the entrance doors and cabinets, and above the carved name Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

There was no doubt that this room was and will always be remembered as the most loved venue of the JVO from the beginning of her career to the very end of her life when she was a One Class liner, as this room remained mostly untouched, except for changes to her furnishings as you will see in photographs in later pages!

Aft of this fine Lounge, was the Veranda, which was out on deck that stretched from side to side of the ship. It had some glass shielding on both sides to shield the tables and chairs when passengers would enjoy their tea or coffee! This area would be used during lunch for buffets on special days, and in the evening for dancing and showing films! In a later incarnation this area would be semi-enclosed!

Amidships is the open area, which was used for a number of uses

Along both sides of the lounges, there is of course the wide open spaces of the ever popular Promenade Deck, a place to sit and relax, read a book, but back in the 1930’s it was also the place to socialise and to meet friends over a drink and a cup of coffee! Stewards were always at hand, day and night ready to serve you and your every wish would be tended to! Forward the ship there where floor to ceiling windows and this area was called the “Terrace” and this was found on both sides of the ship!

The wonderful Promenade Deck Terrace is seen on the portside looking aft

Aft of the Veranda came two delightful Second Class Lounges, their Music Salon, the Smoking Room as well as the Veranda and their extensive Promenade Deck that took up at least half of the ships length. These are fully described in “Part two” of this same chapter, you will find the below the next photograph!

A classical JVO seen at full speed during her good times


Go to Chapter One – Part Two

Or the - JVO Index



 “Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”


ENTER OUR … ssMaritime Main INDEX

Where you will discover well over 1,365 Classic Passenger & Passenger-Cargo Liners!

The Author has been in Passenger Shipping & the Cruise Industry for over 60 years!


For interest: Sadly an email service to ssMaritime is no longer available, due to the author’s old age and chronic illness as well as being disabled, etc. In the past ssMaritime received well over 140 emails per day, but Mr. Goossens can no longer handle same. He sincerely regrets this!

ssMaritime.com & ssMaritime.net

Where the ships of the past make history & the story of the 1914 built MV Doulos


Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author does not seek funding or favours and never have and never will.

Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are either by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images and photographs that have been provided by Shipping Companies or private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors, however, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer or owner concerned.


ssMaritime is owned & © Copyright by Reuben Goossens - All Rights Reserved