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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author


The Three Dutch “Victory” Ships


SS Zuiderkruis - SS Groote Beer - SS Waterman


SS Zuiderkruis seen at anchor in 1962


Please Note: Photographs are either from the author’s private collection, or from those as stated or other sources.

Three Victory Class ships, SS Cranston Victory, SS Costa Rica Victory and the SS 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, Canada, Australia 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 public rooms.

 1944 US Victory class-freighter

The first of the trio, SS Cranston Victory (Zuiderkruis) was built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Yard in Portland; Oregon was launched on May 5, 1944. The second of the series, SS Costa Rica Victory (Groote Beer) was built by Permanente Metals Co, Richmond California and launched on June 17, 1944. The last of the three was the SS La Grande Victory (Waterman), which like her sister SS Cranston Victory, was built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Yard in Portland, Oregon and launched on January 16, 1945.

A sister of the Dutch Trio, SS Maritime Victory seen whilst laid-up

Photo with thanks to


Tonnage: 9.126 GRT (Costa Rica Victory 9,140 GRT).

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

Screw: Single

SS Cranston Victory was operated by the South Atlantic Steamship Co for the US Maritime Commission. SS Costa Rica Victory was managed by the American Hawaiian Steamship Co (New York). SS 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 repatriates. 

SS Waterman the troop ship seen in Rotterdam. One of her sisters is seen astern



Above and below: 1950 – Zuiderkruis (Southern Cross) & Groote Beer (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.

SS Zuiderkruis seen after her rebuilding in 1951


SS Waterman arrives in Sydney Australia - 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 Huizen who sailed on her from Rotterdam to Halifax in 1952.

SS Waterman’s Collision at Sea:

SHIPS COLLIDE IN ATLANTIC - March 15, 1957. The 9,177-ton Dutch ship SS 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 SS 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 situation.

“We departed on the SS 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 SS 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.

The damage done to the SS Waterman by the Italian freighter SS Merit

Photograph provided by Anna Nadler

The story continues with another item that was sent to me, that provides further details of this event!

Passenger Lists with – Hugo Schouten:

Eleven year old Hugo Schouten, his parents, brother and sister sailed from Rotterdam to Melbourne Australia on the SS Groote Beer on October 25, 1958. Hugo who now lives in Adelaide South Australia has a webpage online covering his voyage on the Groote Beer and other passenger stories, as well as various passenger lists that he has online. To visit Hugo's Groote Beer page and passengers lists see the INDEX at the bottom of the page!

In 1961, the Dutch Government formed their own company “Trans Ocean” all three ships were transferred to this new company, although each ship continued to be managed by the same shipping 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!

SS Waterman seen at anchor

Photographer unknown – See photo notes at bottom of page! 


SS Groote Beer seen around 1962)

Photographer unknown – See photo notes at bottom of page!

They continued sailing the Atlantic and down to Australia and New Zealand. In 1962, both the Groote Beer and Waterman were chartered as accommodation ships for the Commonwealth Games in Fremantle (Perth) Australia.

SS Groote Beer and MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt in Fremantle serving

as accommodation ships during the 1962 Commonwealth Games there

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.

In the same year Zuiderkruis was laid up in the Dutch city of Den Helder to become an accommodation ship, registration No A853. She was taken out of commission and was sold in 1969 to Spanish breakers at Bilbao to become the first of the trio to broken up.

SS Zuiderkruis

In 1963 both the Waterman and Groote Beer were sold to John Latsis of Greece being a family owned Shipping Company. The Waterman was renamed Margareta and the Groote Beer became Marianna IV.

SS Groote Beer seen having been chartered from the Latsis Shipping Company

SS Margareta (Waterman) operated sailings throughout the Eastern Mediterranean as well as seasonal Pilgrim voyages to Jeddah, however, she was the second to be scrapped by Onomachi ship breakers in Japan in 1970.

SS Marianna IV (Groote Beer) was chartered in 1965 to the Atlantic Educational Program for four round voyages between Rotterdam and New York. For this purpose she was renamed Groote Beer once again, but remained under the Greek flag. Holland America Line acted as agents. Although she had returned to Latsis, it was not until 1969 that she was renamed Marianna IV once again, but she was laid up at Piraeus. Then in 1970 she was sold and in 1971 she became the last of the three Dutch Victory ships to be scrapped. She was broken up locally in Eleusis, Greece.


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 SS Groote Beer, Rotterdam, Halifax, New York on January 16, 1957. Provided by passenger Simon de Vente – Two other (SS Waterman) passenger lists are also available on THIS page via links provided.

Page Five Here is another passenger list, but this time for the SS Zuiderkruis sailing from Holland to New Zealand and Australia. She departed on December 9, 1960. It was kindly provided by Mr. Gabriel-Bosch.

Page Six SS Groote Beer Passenger Lists from 1951 to 1962. Provided by Mr Hugo Schouten!

Page Six-B Hugo Schouten’s voyage on the Groote Beer including, Groote Beer passenger lists from various voyages. This link takes you to Hugo’s own story on his website.

Page Seven Passenger Dr. Barbara Wollman sailed in 1955 on the SS Groote Beer from New York to Rotterdam and returned on the Zuiderkruis.

Page Eight Bob ter Haar kindly provided the passenger list of his voyage on the SS Zuiderkruis from Amsterdam to Australia, January 16, 1959. He came to Australia with his family.

Page 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 SS Costa Rica Victory, (later the Groote Beer) in September 1945. The three parts are by Franks daughter Mary Lovell, Frank himself, through 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!

Passenger lists currently available online

Passenger List dated 25 April, 1955

View it online


Also SS Waterman departed from Rotterdam on Friday April 1, 1955



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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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