Netherland Line MS Oranje 1939 to 1964

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With Reuben Goossens

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

Please Note: All ssmaritime and my other related ssmaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues to write article on classic liners and cruise ships in order to better inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!


MS Oranje above is seen after she had her major refit in 1959

Page OneMS Oranje

Page One


A LINK to the M/S Angelina Lauro page is located at the bottom of this page

Please Note: Photographs and images on this page are from the Author’s private collection, unless otherwise mentioned


The Nederlandsche Stoomvaart Maatschapij (Netherlands Line) already had their popular liner, the MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt in operation on the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) service, but by the mid 1930s, the company already had a set of new plans for a new ship to be built by the Nederland Shipbuilding Company in Amsterdam. Her keel was laid down on July 2, 1937.

Here see the soon to be named Oranje on the stock, but she will soon be launched

What is so remarkable about this photo is that it shows off her bulging “tumblehome hull” so well!

The ship was launched by HRH Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands and the new modern Dutch liners was proudly named “Oranje” in honour of the Royal House of Orange on September 8, 1938.

Here we see the just named Oranje, sliding down the slipway into the water

Once the Oranje was completed she undertook her Deep Sea & Speed Trials in June 1939 and during her timed speed trails she attained the amazing maximum speed of 26.5 knots, and this made the MS Oranje the world fastest Motor Liner, and this was an amazing achievement for a Dutch liner! However she did have another first!

A special mention: One of her most striking features was her “another first” and that was that rather unusual shape of her hull. Instead of her hull sides being vertical her hull flared out and this was called a “tumbledome hull.” At the waterline she was a good 17ft - 5.17m wider than at her superstructure. Her designer claimed that her unique hull design combined with her flared cut away bow would provide the ship with additional speed, and that was something she certainly did have! In addition this also meant that the ship ended up with a reduced tonnage of around 1,800 tons.

The Oranje accommodated 283 passengers in a luxurious First Class, 283 in an excellent Second Class and just 95 in a good Third Class as well as 52 in a humble Fourth Class.

MS Oranje was finally ready, having been fully completed, and on June 27, 1939 she was handed over to the Netherland Line. Her first two voyages were two ten day cruises from Amsterdam to Madeira before she commenced her first scheduled voyage to the Dutch East Indies, which departed Amsterdam on September 4, 1939. She sailed via Cape of Good Hope and Batavia.

Here we see the MS Oranje in 1939 in Southampton during just as she

was being ordered to head for Asia and remain there until further notice!

But sadly all too soon World War II commenced which saw her laid up at Sourabaya (Surabaya) from December 1939 through to February 1941.

War Duties:

In February 1941 the Captain was ordered to sail for Sydney and place his ship at the disposal of the Australian Navy. The Dutch Government advised the Australian Government that they would bear the full cost of Oranje’s conversion as a hospital ship, and even though she would be sailing under Australian command the Oranje remained crewed by a Dutch crew and she continued to sail under the Dutch flag. She arrived in Sydney and headed for Cockatoo Island dockyard, where she would be converted into a hospital ship.

Upon completion, she was ready to commence her new duties, and on July 30, 1941 she was ready for her five-year service as an Australian hospital ship. During her conversion, she was painted all white, but a wide green band was painted around her hull with three huge Red Crosses on each side of the ship, as well as Red Crosses on her funnel.

The Oranje is seen moored at the Glebe Island grain silos having just been refitted at the Cockatoo Island dockyard


Here we see one of the wards just after her refit, but awaiting the bedding and she ship being stocked up!

She departed Sydney on her very first voyage on July 1, 1941 as the Royal Navy’s Hospital Ship. The Oranje was the largest hospital ship that operated from Australia and she served for five years throughout the theatres of this evil World War II.

During her time as an Australian Hospital ship, the HMHS Oranje made a good 41 voyages in which she transported and cared for countless Australian, New Zealand as well as British and many soldiers from other nations. She became a regular and a most welcome sight in both Australian and New Zealand ports for the Oranje had become like one of their own!


Above & Below: Oranje is seen as the Australian based Hospital Ship

Photographs provided by Johan Franciscus


Oranje was the largest hospital ship operated from Australia and as stated earlier, she certainly served for five long years as well as covering many theatres of War, which included the Middle East, as well as the Indian and those very dangerous Asian-Pacific Campaigns! But thankfully she came through unscathed.

This is an excellent study of the Oranje as the Australian wartime Hospital ship

Her final visit to Australia as a hospital ship was in November 1945, after which the MS Oranje sailed for her homeport, being Amsterdam, where she arrived to a tumultuous welcome.

The Oranje was completely refitted and restored to her former glory and she was again a luxurious passenger liner. The Oranje was officially handed back to the Netherland Line in July 1946, and on the 16th of that month she departed Amsterdam recommencing the Batavia service, sailing this time via Southampton. However, due to the ongoing strife in the now independent Indonesia it had been decided to end this service and therefore a new route had to be found for all of the Dutch liners in service! At that time there were two Netherland Line and two Royal Rotterdam Lloyd liners in operation. Her history continues below the photo album below.

MS Oranje Photo Album 1947 – 1958:

The now famous Holland to Java poster


MS Oranje seen from the air



Above & Below: First Class Social Lounge. The wonderful Wintergarden surrounds this room



Tourist Class Dinning Room


A First Class twin bedded cabin

The Netherland Line decided to send the Oranje and Johan van Oldenbarnevelt fulltime on the Australia New Zealand survive and at first they would sail to Australia via the Suez Canal and return the same way, but, in February 1950, she made her first liner voyage from Amsterdam via the Panama Canal to New Zealand and Australia, returning via Singapore and the Suez Canal. She would soon become a regular visitor Down Under!

Oranje’s Final Five Years … 1959 – 1964:

At twenty years of age, the Netherland Line decided it was time to give MS Oranje a comprehensive refit and a minor external facelift; this took place in Amsterdam in 1958/59. Upon completion her tonnage was then listed as 20,565 GRT and she was able to accommodate 323 Fist Class and 626 Tourist Class passengers. Externally the major change that could be seen were the windows amidships on promenade deck, being the new verandah/cinema, available to both first and tourist class passengers. Also her aft decks had been extended further aft.

This postcard was released in 1959 of the newly refitted liner

Note the enclosed section amidships on the Promenade Deck that served as a cinema and dance area

September 7, 1960 she departed on her first round-the-world voyage from Amsterdam via Southampton, sailing via the Suez, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Panama, Port Everglades, Bermuda, Southampton and Amsterdam. She and two other Dutch ships serviced Australia and New Zealand, these being the Netherland Line Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Willem Ruys. These three ships sailed under the banner of “Dutch Mails.

Then on February 26, 1961 she sailed in the opposite direction but visiting the same ports. However soon enough, with air travel gaining popularity and passengers desiring to sail by sea declining rapidly, the Nederland Line decided to end its passenger services in 1964.

In this light the Oranje does seem to show off her “tumblehome hull”


Souvenir Delft Blue plate depicting the Oranje


MS Oranje is seen at Queens' wharf in Wellington New Zealand in 1953


Oranje seen passing though the Panama Canal Locks toward the

end of her career with the Netherland Line (Royal Dutch Mail)

Having been on this delightful ship several times I remember well my time in one of her four beautiful de-Luxe Suites and one of the special gifts you were given, that was located on the desk was a superb high quality light brown leather writing folder. This folder has a number of compartments, filled with personalised writing pager, envelopes and pens, etc, then there was the section that was to be used to write on, complete with blotting paper! That was just one of the many extras of this wonderful suite and travelling First Class on the MS Oranje!

Thus it was great sadness when I heard that the MS Oranje commenced her final voyage as a Dutch liner sailing around the world voyage as she departed Amsterdam on May 4, 1964. She visited Melbourne on June 3, and I was invited onboard and met many who officers and crew I knew so well. When she departed, she received a good send-off as she headed for northward for Sydney arriving on June 5 for her very last visit and she remained there for a number of days and a number of guests were invited onboard.

MS Oranje arrives in Sydney for the final time on June 5, 1964

Then she departed Sydney on June 10, 1964 and I was told that that Sydney, gave her a huge send-off from all those who dearly loved this fine ship. For past passengers as well as those who admired this unusual looking ship, even if it was for her hull had come to see her off. Ships horns and whistles were going off loudly and small vessels followed her out of the harbour for she obviously was a much-loved ship! This great Dutch liner sailed to Amsterdam where upon arrival she was laid up and placed on the market! She finally headed through Sydney heads and headed back home to Amsterdam the Netherlands where she was laid up and placed on the market!

As we now know from history she would be purchased by the Italian Shipping Company, Flotta Lauro Line and she was taken to Italy where the Oranje was extensively rebuilt into a an ultra modern looking liner and she was renamed the Angelina Lauro.

The Oranje would soon look like a brand new liner, renamed the M/s Angelina Lauro


Below at the INDEX go to Page Two


So Many Wonderful Memories of a Fine Ship!


A beautiful painting of the newly refitted MS Oranje by Dutch Maritime Artist; Frans Romeijnsen

Visit his webpage;



Page One:??????????? The Oranje Story From shipyard, Wartime until her sale to Italy in 1964.

Page One b:???????? MS Oranje The Walter von Stockhausen Story - From Stowaway to Naval Cadet.”

Page Two:?????????? The Angelina Lauro Story Transformation into an modern Italian liner.

Page Three:???????? Angelina Lauro Photo Page

Page Four:?????????? Angelina Lauro’s demise A Tragic Day on March 30, 1979.

Page Five:?????????? Angelina Lauro Deck Plan

Page Six:???????????? MS Orange Passenger list of her very first voyage/cruise 4 Aug 1939 Provided by

.????????????????????????? passenger Dieuwertje Goedkoop. Note: This is the ONLY Passenger List Have!


Visit our Main Index for features on other Dutch liners, such as the MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Sibajak, Willem Ruys (Achille Lauro), the TSS Rijndam and her sister the TSS Maasdam, as well as the then Flagship of Holland America Line, the grand SS Rotterdam and the magnificent SS Nieuw Amsterdam, as well as the three simple migrant ships; the SS Waterman, Groote Beer and Zuiderkruis, as well as the famous small, but the “Elegant White Yachts” of Royal Interocean Lines as well as a number of other excellent Dutch Passenger/Cargo ships. All of these can be found on my ssMaritime Main Index below.

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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 be found on only), in order that due credit may be given.

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