MV Doulos (1977-2010) - MS Franca C (1952-1977) - SS Roma (1948-1952) - SS Medina (1914-1948)

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A superbly built American built ship that sailed into History and she remains with us to this very day!

With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author

Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in 1960


A superbly built American built ship that sailed into History and she remains with us to this very day!

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 and I hope that the well over 675 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers ships I have written on will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts and continue a great deal of information and pleasure!


SS Medina (1914-1948) was sold and renamed: SS Roma (1948-1952)

MS Franca C (1952-1977) - MV Doulos (1977-2010)

Doulos Phos (2010 - ) A land-locked Hotel at Bintan, Indonesia

MV Doulos

“A Ship Like no Other”

By Reuben Goossens 

Part Two - 2008 / Chapter Nine

Doulos in Geelong - Albany - Fremantle & Lifeboat Drill at Sea

Including her final Asian ports & her decommissioning in Singapore on December 31, 2009

1 - Geelong Victoria

As Holly Suffron the ships reporter stated; “Pastel clouds, along with a multiplicity of buildings and supporters welcomed the Doulos at Cunningham Pier in Geelong, Australia. Situated in a small-town atmosphere, this private pier allowed more visitors to come than all the other ports so far in the Land Down Under.”

There was no doubt about it, but Geelong proved to be a huge hit for the Doulos, which was open from 12 to 28 September. The number of visitors exceedingly above expectations, considering the size of this delightful destination, for unexpectedly 28,500 people visited the ship, and that is 3,500 more than Brisbane, which was already a record for Australia and New Zealand. However, many had come from further afield, such as Melbourne and Ballarat. The Doulos was berthed alongside Cunningham Pier, which is very close to the city centre and right along the popular boulevard! The crew greatly enjoyed their stay in beautiful Geelong and the wonderful hospitality that was extended to them there!

MV Doulos berthed at the Cunningham Pier Geelong

Photograph by & 2008 Andrew MacKinnon

On Monday September 29, the Doulos departed Geelong and as she sailed out of Geelong again there were bright blue skies and the many new friends that were made whilst she was in port had come to waved the ship a fond farewell, it was a moving experience and it certainly made Geelong a standout port for everyone on board!

Andrew MacKinnon was most fortunate to sail on Doulos as the guest of the Pilot, Captain Neal Oxley, as the Doulos sailed to Port Phillip Heads and he returned back to shore with the Pilot on the Pilot boat. There is a wonderful series of photographs that were taken by Andrew during his experience on the Doulos’ first and last call to Geelong.

I hereby wish to thank Andrew MacKinnon for making the following photographs available to me and ssMaritime for they will be greatly appreciated by all who love this fine and historic ship for the years to come! However please note that these photographs are Copyright 2008 Andrew MacKinnon and they cannot and MUST be copied or reproduced without written consent.

As the Doulos slowly slips away from Cunningham Pier, Geelong Pilot Captain Neal Oxley seen on the left and Doulos’ ship’s master, Captain Ashley McDonald just behind him, overseeing the manoeuvre.


With the helmsman just out of sight on the far right, we see telegraph showing full ahead as the Doulos is underway sailing at 11 around knots.


Here is a fine view of Arthurs Seat as we approached the Hovel Pile off Rosebud. At first it was hard to see, but once a little rain had passed, we could clearly see it.

Doulos always has a well-packed foredeck, complete with a small fleet of vans to travel about in when in port 


MV Doulos seen from the Pilot Boat as she is bound for Albany, WA

Photograph by & 2008 Andrew MacKinnon

2 – AlbanyWestern Australia


The Doulos headed westward sailing along the Great Australian Bight bound for Albany in the south of Western Australia (WA). However this stretch of ocean can be very rough indeed at times, and as I was advised, it was indeed a rather rough voyage, especially for those who just joined the ship recently in Sydney. Doulos arrived at Albany at 9am on Saturday October 4 to the delight of those who had been rather under the weather, so to say!

Doulos seen peacefully berthed at Albany on October 5 - A superb sunrise scene!

Photograph by & 2008 - Yi-An Neoh

Doulos was berthed at Wharf 1 and she remained for what was to be only four short days. Yet it was certainly a most enjoyable stay and what proved to be a delightful town. Of course, Albany will join the Doulos record books for Albany will forever be listed as the 586th port visited since the ship commenced sailing in 1977 and since then to date she has visited a total of 103 countries.

A fine stern View of the Doulos at sunrise

Photograph by & 2008 - Yi-An Neoh

At the official opening his Worship the Mayor Milton Evans of Albany welcomed the Doulos by saying, “We have a strong and deep maritime history.”  During the proceedings, Korean singers, accompanied by the piano sang an emotional song in remembrance of the love Albany shared with the crew years ago when in 1991, Doulos made its first visit to Albany for recuperation after the terrorist attack in Zamboanga, Philippines. Two visits to Albany later, with 48 nationalities, the Doulos crew continues to “have chosen to serve the needs of people around the world,” said the Doulos’ Director Dr. Daniel Chae (South Korea). Mayor Milton Evans commented, “That’s a principle people try their whole life to find.” As this is the last tour of the Doulos in Australia, it was important for the ship to visit this city for, “Albany has a long friendship with the Doulos,” concluded Dr. Daniel Chae.

However, on the negative side, unlike in every other port in the world and whilst the Doulos visited Brisbane, Sydney and Geelong in Albany Doulos’ sewage waste had to be trucked away at an incredible expense, considering the ship is but a charity organisation. Why did this happen? It was because the treatment used on the ships sewage system was not recognized by the WA government, even though it is fine with the rest of the world! Fremantle would again cause the same problems, more about that later. It is amazing, in the entire world, only the super rich diamond, coal and other mineral mining Western Australian State Government does not follow the entire world and does this to a charity costing them a fortune, no wonder the ship cannot stay long, for it would run out of funds fast!

Doulos’ mini busses lined up at Albany’s wharf ready for another day’s outings

Photograph by & 2008 - Yi-An Neoh

During her enjoyable but short visit in Albany some 8,268 people visited the Doulos. Total visitors to the Doulos since 1977 including Albany have been 20,688,207. Books were in popular demand, with educational books sold covering some 40.81% and Christian books 30.91% of the sales.

A fine early morning bow view of the Doulos in Albany

Photograph by & 2008 - Yi-An Neoh

Although it may have been a short stay, but it was a happy one, and the Doulos departed Albany on Wednesday October 8, at 8pm and she headed for the Port city of Fremantle (Perth – the Capital of WA).

3 – Fremantle/Perth – Western Australia

The Doulos berthed at Fremantle

Photograph by Andrea-Choi – 2008

The Doulos arrived in Fremantle on Friday October 10, and she berthed at Berth C at Victoria Quay. The Present at the official opening was his the Mayor of Fremantle Mr. Peter Tagliaferri and the Minister for Culture & the Arts, Mr. John Day and the Director of the Doulos, Dr. Daniel Chae PhD.

Her first few days in port were difficult to say the least for port authorities, just like it was in Albany WA, but unlike every other port and State in Australia or the world for that matter, would not provide clearance for the ship to discharge its fully treated and 100% clean sewerage water into the sea. Thus, all staff onboard and visitors alike were forced day and night to go ashore for the first day or so to go to use the facilities. Soon it was proven that ship ships system was in 100% A1 condition and clearance was given, and the following is what Western Australians have written me:

“I am and always have been a Western Australian and very proudly so, but, in the situation the Doulos found itself in, we in WA certainly have nothing to be proud of. I have to say that the Doulos crew is a wonderful bunch of people and they took it so well and without a single complaint, it proves that they are true bunch of Christians. But I as a Western Australian feel utterly ashamed that this situation occurred, for our authorities actions put a blot on our State and our nation.” John G.


Although it is true that the Doulos is an old ship, but I can tell you that she is in far better condition than some of the modern cruise ships that Fremantle allow into their harbour. I sailed on cruise ship in 2007 and her maintenance was nothing short from atrocious, but it was very well hidden. Out of 50 nights aboard we were without air-conditioning for 35 nights and we suffered on many nights. In addition, toilets out of order all over the ship and there were a number of public toilets that were never fixed during the cruise, and yet this ship was only built in the mid 1900s. However, in spite of the obvious signs of neglect, such as leaking ceilings, rust and many other problems, Fremantle had no problem with her!

You may ask, but what is the difference with this major company’s cruise ship and the Doulos? The simple truth is that the only difference is that the badly maintained cruise ship injects well over 500 million dollars into the local community during her eight-hour visit, whilst the Doulos which a spotless and superbly maintained ship and is accepted in every port in Australia and around the world, yet Western Australia has a problem with her! – But WHY? 1. Is it because she is a Christian Ship? 2. Or is it because she is charity based and does not bring funds into the tourist sector! The truth is; Western Australia is a part of Australia where “lucre,” money is what counts for in this money loving state, who in truth really needs the Doulos and the Lord!

Early morning in Fremantle

Photograph by Andrea-Choi – 2008

However, during her first 12 open days the Doulos did receive 12,412 visitors to the book exhibition alone, in addition there were more who did the ship tour as well as those believers who attended the various conferences onboard. From reports from various staff members, the visitors were having a wonderful time and the crew were meeting some wonderful folk and even a few old friends!

By the time Doulos departed Fremantle on Wednesday October 29, her stay was a success with a total of 26,823 visitors who boarding the Doulos to visit the book fair, attend conferences and other programmes as well as the ships tours. Book sales were reported to have done quite well and over all, the Doulos and her crew told me that they had a good time in Fremantle and they just loved their time in both New Zealand and Australia, but Brisbane was their highlight as it was there the past passengers from the 1950 voyage when she was the SS Roma came aboard and they were most appreciative to the athour for his achievements arranging it all! (See Part Two and the Two Page Chapter Three via the Main Index).

November 29, 2008 - MV Doulos departs Australia for the very last time

Sent in by a supporter but the *photographer is unknown

*Please see the photo notes at bottom of page

Lifeboat drill at sea:

Whilst the Doulos was at sea sailing along the Western Australian coast sailing the Indian Ocean and heading north bound for East Timor, but on November 1, considering it was a nice calm day, it was the perfect time to hold an official lifeboat drill, where the lifeboats are lowered into the sea. The photographs below were taken by the ships photographer Andrea-Choi and they provide us with some excellent images of the event, as well as some great photographs of our beloved vintage liner out at sea at full stop!

Doulos’ ever graceful bow as we see a portside lifeboat being lowered and several in the water further aft

Photograph by Andrea-Choi – 2008


As you can see from the photos above and below all her lifeboats are lowered into the sea

and each is filled with the ships crew

Photograph by Andrea-Choi – 2008


Here we see the last of the starboard lifeboats about to be launched

Photograph by Andrea-Choi – 2008


As the lifeboats are being returned into place, one lifeboat with Andrea remains in the water Wwhilst

the Doulos’ Engines start up and her screw obviously is allowed a few turns as we can see at the stern

Photograph by Andrea-Choi – 2008


4 - Ports after Australia & Lifeboat Drill at Sea

DILI, East Timor: After Fremantle the Doulos will sail to Dili East Timor arriving on November 4 and will depart on the 11th. Whilst she is there the ships crew have some important aid work to perform as there have been significant donations made whilst the ship has been in Australia. Both medical equipment and other much needed items have been donated especially for East Timor. Thus, the Doulos team will have a grand task ahead of them, a task that the Douloid’s (Doulos’ crew) are really good at!

Singapore Dry-Docking & Future Ports of Call”

After the Doulos departed East Timor she headed for Singapore where they arrived on November 17. During this time Doulos underwent annual her maintenance work in Dry-Dock.

I received the photograph below from Chief Engineer Dominic Bothello and I am very grateful to him and his wonderful family! The work was a great success and the Doulos is ready for a further few years at sea.


Above & Below: MV Doulos looking superb, but sadly we were soon to discover that her sailing days would soon end!

Photographs by & Dominic Bothello

Internally her boilers were upgraded as well as certain parts in the engine room and other parts of the ship. Work was done by both the ships engineers and excellent Singaporean workers from the shipyards. However, all the volunteer crew, from the Chief Engineer down to the Deck Hand are a credit to the ship for they all work hard together and in combination to keep this ship operating perfectly and looking the way she does. She has continued to sail the globe for over 94 years without a single major mishap. Mind you, being a Christian ship, you will also be told, that there is there is also great deal of prayer on board the ship, as well by those who support the ship around the world and there is no doubt that Someone Far Greater has looked after the world’s oldest passenger ship well!

Her Final Ports of Call:

After Singapore she departed on December 8, 2008 and headed for Kuching, Malaysia, where she arrived on December 10. after her stay she departed on January 3, 2009 bound for Cebu, Philippines arriving on January 8, but after a very short stopover she left on February 11 and arrived at Bacolod, Philippines the next day, February 12. The Doulos departed for Manila on March 3, where she arrived on the 5th. She is due to depart Manila on 31 March for Kaohsiung Taiwan.

A stormy Voyage from Manila to Kaohsiung:

The Doulos departed Manila, Philippines around 11am on March 31, 2009 as bad weather was expected, and in order to remain on tine it was best to leave a little earlier in the day for the voyage from the Philippines to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. And indeed it was far from being “the smoothest voyage I have been on” wrote Gary Barto one of the best known Douloids. He said “It was rough for the two and a half days and some just stayed in bed.”

Stormy weather bound for Taiwan

Provided by Sven Benseler

Someone else wrote, “The huge waves kept breaking over the bow hitting the fo’c’sle and it caused some damage due to the strength of the wind and the huge seas, which also resulted in the ship arriving a good seven hours late.” Not so sure that the words “a good seven hours late” are the most appropriate, but I do understand the sentiment!

“Many Douloids were very sea sick whilst going through going severe type 8 storm/seas, something we certainly do not see very often.” And again as Gary Barto stated, “It was really spectacular and awesome to see God’s power in the sea. We got drenched if we went out on deck. The captain declared the outside front of the ship off limits for safety purposes.” Needless to say that the dinning room was not filled like its usual self during these days. Happily this kind of weather does not happen often and as most Douloids sign on never having been to sea most get their sea legs in a short time.

Taiwan - Cambodia - Thailand & Malaysia:

Due to the storm, the Doulos arrived a little late on April 2 and she remained there until the 29th. There were be two more ports in Taiwan, one being, Haulien arriving on 30 April and departing for Keelung on May 13, where she arrived the next day. Doulos departed Keelung on June 4 and headed for Hong Kong on June 6 and remained until 4 July 2009.

Her next stop was Sihanoukville Cambodia where she arrived on July 10 and departed on July 28 and she sailed for Bangkok, Thailand arriving the next day July 29. She remained in Thailand until August 24, then headed for Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and departing on September 21, bound for Pasir Gudang in Malaysia arriving on September 24 remaining there until her departure for Singapore on October 24, 2009. Sadly this would prove to be her official final actual voyage as an OM Ship and a Christian Missionary “Book Fair” for in Singapore her days would come to an end as after her time open as the Books Fair, she would again be in dry-dock and it was there her sailing days came to an end!


MV Doulos arrived in Singapore on October 13 and she remained open to the public unto October 12. On October 13, she headed for dry-dock where she was to undergo her annual maintenance, but the problems that had been well known to OM since, and to be very honest I had known since 1992, were discovered and the Doulos would not be given her annual clearance to ever sail again unless a great deal of money was spent on her. And to be honest the cost was simply too high! OM already had a new ship in hand! Read on below the beautiful photograph below!

MV Doulos seen at the end of the line, her career as a passenger ship has sadly come to an end!

Obviously OM Ships was not prepared to spend the massive amount it would cost to get her into shape and they decided ckly to dispose of the ship that had kept them afloat since 1978 and the ship that had made “GBA” & “OM” the vast majority of the money the ministry had ever made! As well having had some 23 million people come and visit the ship not because she was a missionary or a Christian ship, but most came just because she was the world’s oldest passenger ship! OM became successful for one main reason, and I call it the Doulos, not any of their other ships had the same impact!

Thus, sadly my beloved Doulos was to be sold and she was placed on the market. She left dry-dock and she was placed at anchor in the harbour, but finally she was berthed.

A special note added in 2010. This fine ship was finally decommissioned in December 2010, as the on board cosmetic repairs (rust problems) that were required would have cost up to $US10 million, and OM ships decided to sell her.

The author, being the founder and president of the “Save the Classic Liner Campaign” I commenced to work in order to ensure that the Doulos would NOT be sold to the breakers, which she almost was. But thankfully, I did have a number of wonderful Christian people who wished to obtain the ship. One of these was Mr Eric Saw and family of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd of Singapore, who finally succeeded in obtaining her, thanks to a last minute instruction I gave Mr Saw; “To place a new bid NOW” and that “He would get the ship” on March 10, 2010.

Doulos Post 2010:

It became a realisation and the ship was sold on March 18, 2010 to Mr. Eric Saw & Family in Singapore who are Directors of “BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd.”

She is to be renamed “Doulos Phos.” She was sent to the ASL Shipyard’s in Batam where she has been undergoing a lengthy retrofit to become a Hotel, but the sad truth is that the beloved historic will be dragged on land and “dry-berthed” on the Indonesian tourist Island “Bintan” to become a playground and not what I as promised by her owners when I assisted them in 2010. It is the end of what was a fine ship, now she is just a pathetic building for Asian tourists!

Above all, I give praise and thanks to the Almighty for allowing me to share Your Word on whilst on the voyage to Your “Doulos” - “Servants”, thank You Father in His, “The Name above every name!”

Reuben Goossens.

Pastor and Maritime Historian & author

ssMaritime & RMI Ministries International


Go to Chapter Ten - Doulos Deck Plan – These are final MV Doulos deck plans to 2010


And Chapter Eleven - Ports of Call - Genoa 1977 to Singapore 2010


Return to the Author’s – MV Doulos “A Ship Like No Other” Main Index


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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are: 1. By the author. 2. From the author’s private collection. 3. As provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are photographs provided to me without details provided regarding the photographer concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me, that due credit may be given.

Copyright: “MV Doulos - A Ship Like No Other” is owned, protected under the International copyright laws and is the property of Reuben Goossens of No part of this work including any of the images shown may be copied or reproduced by any means or reproduced by any format whatsoever, be it for private or commercial usage, without prior written permission from the author. is owned and Copyright by Reuben Goossens - All Rights Reserved.