Chapter 7

1946 - 1965

Post-war Reconstruction and Expansion

At the end of the war only nine of the original 25 ships remained: 116,000 tons gross out of some 300,000 tons in September 1939. Reconstruction of the fleet and its services presented formidable problems. Twelve ships had been lost, three captured and one converted to a naval auxiliary. The captured ships, VEENDAM, DAMSTERDYK and DRECHTDYK , were recovered in 1946 in very bad condition, the DAMSTERDYK being extensively overhauled and re-engined in 1948 was renamed DALERDYK. Completion of the WESTERDAM was expedited and she reopened the Rotterdam-New York service in June 1946, followed shortly by the reconditioned NOORDAM, VOLENDAM (below) and VEENDAM. In October 1947 the NIEUW AMSTERDAM returned to peace time service. EDAM and LEERDAM resumed sailings to Baltimore and other US Atlantic ports. In the winter of 1947 it was found possible to start cruises again, the NIEUW AMSTERDAM sailing from New York to the West Indies.


Only five ships were available for re-opening the extensive cargo services: SOMMELSDYK, SLOTERDYK, two 'D's and BLOMMERSDYK, the only survivor of the 'B' class. In the next 5 years 20 freighters were acquired, two from the Netherlands Government (DUIVENDYK and EEMDYK), 16 wartime-built ships from the USA and two new ships from Harland & Wolff. The 8,300 ton DUIVENDYK was originally the Hamburg-America Line VANCOUVER, which was taken as a prize in Curacao in May 1940. Taken over by the Netherlands, during the war she ran as the CURACAO. The 9,900 ton EEMDYK was built at Dundee in 1944 as the TERBORCH. An American 'Liberty" ship, the FORT ORANGE,
already under the Line's management, was brought into their fleet and named BLYDENDYK in 1947. The other 15 American ships were all given DYK names beginning with 'A'. Three of them, ALBLASSERDYK, ALMDYK and ANDYK, were 8,300 tonners of the C3 type. The ANDYK was built as such, but the other two were conversions from 'Baby Flat-tops' (Escort Aircraft Carriers).
The remaining twelve (whose names can be found in the Index of Ships) were 'Victory' type ships of 7,650 tons, six with 8,500 h.p. turbines and a speed of 17 knots and six with 6,000 h.p. turbines giving a speed of 15-1/2 knots. (The 'Victory' ships and converted 'Flat-tops' were transferred by the US Government to the Netherlands Government and allocated to the Holland-America Line as compensation under the Merchant Marine Reconstruction Scheme). The new Harland & Wolff 9,500 ton turbine ships, SOESTDYK (II) and SCHIEDYK, delivered in 1948-49, were designed for the Java-New York service.

As the fastest available freighters the 'Victory' ships were most useful in the post-war years. Towards the end of 1949 two new services were introduced, one from Bremen to New York and US Atlantic ports. The other known as the Holland-Inter-America Line, linking the Atlantic ports of North and South America, was run in conjunction with Van Nievelt, Goudriaan & Co. Ships engaged on this service had different funnel markings, the green band being narrower, with the broader white band containing a white star on a blue disc. In the Winter of 1959-60 the Holland-America withdrew from this route.

Government emigration ships, when transversing the North Atlantic, were operated by the Holland-America Line. These ships were the ZUIDERKRUIS, GROOTE BEER and WATERMAN of 9,100 tons, SIBAJAK, 12,300 tons and JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT, 20,000 tons.


With the reconstruction and recovery of Dutch shipyards from the devastation of the war it became possible to plan the new fleet for the Line, and new vessels were ordered from the Wilton-Fijenoord yard. The first, the 11,200 ton DIEMERDYK, delivered in 1950, was a large freighter with accomodation for about 60 passengers. The second, originally
intended to be a sister ship. DINTELDYK, finally appeared a year later as the 15, 000 ton passenger liner RYNDAM. She carries 39 first-class and 842 tourist-class passengers, who have almost complete run of the air-conditioned ship and are exceptionally well catered for, their facilities having been far superior to the previous tourist-class standard. The RYNDAM's sister ship, MAASDAM, followed in 1952, the hulls of both being painted dove grey instead of black. This innovation has since been adopted for the larger passenger ships, including the NIEUW AMSTERDAM, as well as for the DINTELDYK, as flagship of the North Pacific Coast service. DINTELDYK, similar to DIEMERDYK, was delivered in 1957, both ships being built for the North Pacific Coast run.


The main passenger route of the Line is now Rotterdam - Le Havre - Southampton - New York, Le Havre having been substituted for Boulogne. Of the RYNDAM and MAASDAM, which replaced the VOLENDAM and VEENDAM, the MAASDAM now provides a regular service for Ireland, calling at Galway and Cobh alternately, and, since April 1963, starts her run at Bremerhaven with Rotterdam as first post of call. The RYNDAM meanwhile has become the 'Canada' ship, calling in the summer, when the St. Lawrence is navigable, at Montreal and Quebec.

So successful were these two new ships that a much larger vessel, the 24,294 ton STATENDAM (fourth of her name) was built at the Wilton-Fijenoord yard and completed in 1957. This very handsome ship, air-conditioned and equiped with stabilizers, carried 868 tourist and 84 first-class passengers. Her double-reduction geared turbines of 22,000 h.p. drive twin screws giving her a service speed of 19 knots.

Conditions on the cargo services became increasingly competitive as the time for
replacement of the 'Victory' ships approached. In 1956 the KINDERDYK (II), the first ship of six 'K' class ships, was delivered. These are 5,600 ton motor ships with a speed of 16 knots, three being built in Holland and three in West Germany. Although on the small side they are beautifully proportioned and have full cargo equipment, including a 40 ton (KATSEDYK 60 ton) heavy-lift derrick on the foremast and MacGregor hatch covers. The 9,500 ton, turbine-driven SOESTDYK and SCHIEDYK were, in 1960, re-engined as motor ships, with eight-cylinder two-stroke single acting engines.

Before the war it had been intended to lay down a sister ship for the NIEUW AMSTERDAM but the course of events caused the project to be shelved. In the meantime traffic requirements and ship design had greatly changed and a new vessel was planned on the most modern lines.
This was the fifth ROTTERDAM and present flagship of the Line, laid down by the Rotterdam Dockyard (Drydock) Company in December 1956, before the STATENDAM was completed. Launched by H.M. Queen Juliana on September 13, 1958 she sailed on her maiden voyage just under a year later. The 38,650 ton liner, lacking the traditional funnel, is one of the most striking on the North Atlantic. The largest ship ever built in the Netherlands, with very luxurios accomodation of exceptional and original design, and air-conditioned throughout, she carries 647 first-class and 809 tourist passengers. Steam turbines of 35,000 s.h.p. driving twin screws give her a service speed of 20-1/2 knots.


Modern Holland-America passenger ships have followed a markedly progressive developement. The NIEUW AMSTERDAM, as built, was designed to be equally suitable for passenger service or cruising, the class partitioning being less close and more flexible than in earlier ships. In post-war years the greatest adverse effect of air competition has been on first-class passages, whilst tourist travel, particularly from America, has increased. Ships have therefore been designed with less first-class accomodation but maximum facilities for tourists.

Stabilizers have greatly reduced rolling, there is now less advantage in 'midships' accomodation. In the RYNDAM and MAASDAM of 1951-52, therefore, some degree of horizontal instead of vertical partitioning of first-class and tourist accomodation was introduced for the first time. The STATENDAM of 1957 is a larger ship on the same lines, also suitable for cruising although not quite so readily adaptable as tha NIEUW AMSTERDAM in this respect. In the ROTTERDAM horizontal partitioning and easy convertibility for cruising has been made practicable by introducing the 'secret' or 'Chambord' staircase (designed by W. H. deMonchy), a clever new feature whereby various sections of the accomodation can be connected or shut off at will. Finally, towards the end of 1961, the NIEUW AMSTERDAM was withdrawn from service and in just three months was converted to a two-class liner - cabin and tourist classes being combined - with accomodation for 1,274 passengers and complete reconditioning and redecoration throughout. This famous and lovely ship emerged to re-enter service on January 18, 1962, her graceful traditional lines unchanged but her luxurious interior brought to the highest pitch of up-to-date comfort.

Completion of the passenger ship programme has been followed by the larger freighters of the 7,200 ton 'G' class, the first, GAASTERDYK, going into service in 1960, the GREBBEDYK, GROTEDYK and GORREDYK in 1962. They are five-masted motor ships having their engines aft and a speed of 17 knots. With a dead-weight capacity of 10,200 tons they have very complete cargo-handling gear, including two 75 ton heavy-lift derricks so arranged as to be able to lift a joint load of 120 tons. MacGregor hatch covers are fitted as well as flush covers in the 'tween decks to facilitate the use of fork-lift trucks. GAASTERDYK was the first ocean-going ship to put to sea without a conventional wheel being equipped, as are the succeeding three 'G' ships, with the Sperry tiller pilot.

In 1964 the m.v. PRINSES MARGRIET was bought from the Oranje Line to replace the WESTERDAM. Under the original name this ship is in service between Rotterdam and New York.

From the W. German wharf August Pahl a freighter under construction of 3,551 tons was bought in 1964. The name POELDYK was given to this ship, which is sailing to the U.S. Gulf ports, Mexico and South Atlantic.

In 1965 the m.v. MOERDYK was delivered by the Rotterdam Dockyard Company. This ship is the last of a series of five fast freighters; the 'G' - vessels, adapted to the service to the Pacific Coast. She is powered by a Stork diesel engine of 14,000 h.p., is fitted with flume stabilising tanks and has nearly 20 per cent of the hold space refrigerated.

Thus, once again, the Holland-America Line has built up a fine fleet of distinctive modern ships, with which to uphold the great maritime tradition of the Netherlands Mercantile Marine and the high reputation of the Company.

(Thus ends H. M. Le Fleming's Ships of the Holland-America Line, John Marshbank Ltd. Publishers, 1963, 1965.)

Home | Table of Contents

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6