Doulos Phos 2010 - located on the resort Island of Bintan in Indonesia - 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 Three

--SS Roma--


Roma’s Voyage to Australia


Ex Bremerhaven - October 30, 1950 - Sailing via: Port Said, Aden

Colombo & Fremantle - Arriving in Newcastle - December 18, 1950


After a long and troubled voyage in 1950 with her mahinerary, SS Roma finally arrives at her destination in Australia

From the author’s collection


Ex 1950 SS Roma Passengers visit

the Doulos in Australia - August 2008

A Brief background of the SS Roma.

SS Roma departed Bremerhaven on October 30, at 1700 hours with a complement of 950 Eastern European, and a few German refugees. The ship after a troubled voyage finally arrived in Newcastle on December 18, 1950.

The German passengers were mostly ladies who had married Polish or men from other Eastern European countries and sadly in certain parts of Europe they were considered as outcasts.

Having made special arrangements for those who sailed on the SS Roma to come and visit the Doulos on a special day, I was most fortunate to meet some of these fine people as the came aboard the then 94-year-old liner in August 2008, whilst she was in Brisbane on August 9 and 13.

Although, many others visited the ship thinking that they had sailed on her to Australia, but they had actually sailed on the other SS Roma that was owned by Flotta Lauro Line, which commenced sailing to Australia in 1951 and sailed together with her sister the SS Sydney until the mid-sixties. However, this SS Roma only came to Australia just the single time and she briefly stopped at Fremantle on December 9 and the voyage concluded at Newcastle on December 18, 1950. Passengers were only permitted to disembark in Newcastle. Sadly whilst she was there, the company went bankrupt and her crew were unpaid and Australians ensured that whilst the ship remained laid up, they were well fed! In due course another Italian Line, Lloyd Triestino took charge of her for a single voyage back to Europe where she would be placed at auction.

But now, as this historic ship is coming close towards the end of her sailing days and will soon be decommissioned in 2010 due to the new SOLAS regulations, there are plans at hand that she might become a hotel and tourist centre and a maritime museum. Mr. Sven Benseler on the Doulos has commenced a special commemorative Book to celebrate the passengers who sailed on the SS Roma, today’s MV Doulos and each passengers who will visit will sign this book and become part of history!

The Brisbane page will obviously be the first page and we hope that you will enjoy meeting the Passengers of the SS Roma of 1950 as the ship continues to Sydney we hope to meet many more!

All passengers featured are recorded on the official “International Refugee Organization” - “AUD/165 - Nominal Roll” which was sent to the Department of Immigration in Canberra on 31 October 1950, the day after the ship departed Bremerhaven. The author happens to have one of these very rare copies of this historic document together as well as many Letters, Telegrams and Telexes related to the ships movements, her delays and arrival details in Newcastle and the disembarkation, etc.

I am sure that you will enjoy meeting the wonderful people who sailed on the SS Roma back in 1950 for they were all such delightful folk and I am delighted that I was in charge of this special event on board!

Reuben Goossens.

Maritime Historian, Author & Lecturer

The Gurgacz Family

The first of these passengers I was able to meet was on a Saturday morning, August 9, and it was the delightful German born Mrs. Annemarie Gurgacz who was married to Jan who was Polish gentleman. When she boarded the SS Roma she was twenty years of age and her late husband Jan was 29 years. With them was their 17 month old daughter Waltraut who as she grew up preferred to use as her Christian name Liane.

Mrs. Annemarie Gurgacz aboard MV Doulos holding a photograph of the SS Roma

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

Life on board. Annemarie said, “When we boarded the Roma she looked very nice, everything was so clean and tidy.” “My cabin” said Annemarie “was small but it was fine and we managed, little did I now how crowded it was going to be by the time the ship would leave Bremerhaven.

I was amazed to find out how men and women were mostly separated and many passengers were given jobs to do throughout the voyage. Her husband, Jan was appointed, along with a group of others, as guards to keep the peace on board and to ensure that everyone got on and fights would break out amongst the various nationalities. Also to ensure that men and women behaved, “If you know what I mean, and slept in their own beds at night, for that was the rule, although it did not happen all the time.”

Annemarie Gurgacz boarding on Lounge Deck

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

Annemarie spent a great deal of her time in the cabin looking after little Waltraut as going out on deck was somewhat of a luxury. She said that by the time she would have received breakfast for the both of them, which was usually brought to them by another passenger and they were ready, the deck space was so crowded that there was usually little to no space left. Sometimes, there would be a little cormers where you could sit on the deck. She never managed to get a chair out on deck during the entire voyage. Most of the time she stayed in her four berth cabin, which was for ladies only as the men slept in their own section forward of the ship, regardless if they were married or not. In Annemarie’s cabin there were three other ladies two of them had children, who slept with their mothers in their berths. Little Waltraut slept in a small cot at the foot of the bed. Annemarie said about getting her little one to sleep, “It was so annoying, often by the time she finally fell asleep, they would put music through the ship and she wake up again.” Apparently, that was the main source of entertainment, recorded music to the cabins. Annemarie continued, “All day it was quiet, but when the babies needed to go to sleep they put the music on, so we had to put whatever we could find into those loudspeaker to make them quiet.” I asked if they had other entertainments at night in any of the lounges, but obviously Annemarie never ventured out as she stayed with her baby as there was no babysitting facilities, thus she did not know. She told me how many of the single women passengers had do various jobs, including setting up both dinning rooms for the two sittings for each meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition, passengers did most of the serving. “What was the food like on board?” I recall a great deal of laughter at this point, and the reply was very simple. “Reuben, it was an Italian ship, so think spaghetti and tomato sauce, that is almost it. We had that for seven very long weeks and the servings were very small. But where my husband and the men were there was always plenty and they had much better food. But, we managed get little bits of this and that from the crew and made some extra food ourselves.” So we managed and don’t complain for it was much worse in the war!”

Annemarie was the first to sign the commemorative 1950 SS Roma Passenger Book

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

I asked about the voyage, weather and the route the ship took. Apparently it was pleasant sailing through the Mediterranean, but the Gulf of Biscay proved to be at its ugliest. The Roma then continued to the Suez Canal and having stopped at Port Said, Aden and Colombo she continued to Fremantle. I enjoyed a remark when Annemarie told me; “There was this other passenger ship going the same way in the Indian Ocean. Someone made an announcement and we went out on deck to see it, and there were all the people on that ship waving and laughing at us, for they went past so fast and we were so slow.” It was unknown to the all on the Roma that she was having severe mechanical problems and was not even going at her already lesser speed.

Having visited the various ports, Annemarie said that none of the passengers were permitted to get off the ship and visit any of the ports and thus they stayed onboard, only the crew were allowed to visit the ports. However, I feel this may have had something to do with their refugee status. Then came the voyage along the Great Australian Bight, which proved to be extremely rough and all passengers had been ordered to remain indoors.

“By the time we had arrived at Newcastle the ship looked terrible, some people just do not respect other people property and they treated the ship very badly from what I saw on the trip. Many onboard like myself have come from the farms and have never known anything like this, but I appreciated what we had, but some others, no they did not and left a big mess.

Left to Right: The author, Annemarie, her sons Ron and Peter, Sven Benseler, Doulos’ Partner Ministries Manager

In front are her grandchildren, Brandon and Rebekah.

Photograph by & © 2008 Mali Tirelli –

After arrival in Australia Jan, Annemarie and Waltraut went to the Migration Transit Camp, but soon they found themselves in Queensland and in Brisbane, where they made a life for themselves. Jan and Annemarie were married for fifty six years, however, Annemarie’s beloved husband Jan sadly passed away from what I gather was asbestosis in 2002. Today, at 78 although not in perfect health, she is a very happy and a charming lady and gets around with the aid of a walker. In her own words, “Not bad for an 78 year old” and we agree! But she did extremely well getting onboard the Doulos not just once but twice with a little assistance from family and crew.

Annemarire visits the Book Shop and holds a gift from the author and the Doulos

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

I met Annemarie’s daughter Liane (Waltraut) Horne when she visited the ship for the second time on Wednesday August 13, when she brought along another ex Roma passenger Mrs. Katharina Urban. Her story is related down the page.

Liane Horme, nee Gurgacz, and Kath Urban arrive “Portside” at the MV Doulos

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –


Back on the old ship

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

Liane has no memories of the voyage being just 17 months old at the time. But, obviously she enjoyed revisiting the Doulos, which is a part of her life and she was able to have lunch with us onboard. It was a wonderful reunion and she signed the special memorial book as did all the ex Roma passengers and photographs were taken.

Liane Horne signs the commemorative 1950 SS Roma book

 Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –


Liane Horne enjoying her visit and holding the Roma photo

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

The Zygis Family

Gana (Petronela) Ralph, nee Zygis, was just 4 years old when she boarded the Roma. She came with her Father Vladas 39 years, Mother Barbara 38 years and little brother Jonas most other passengers, 3 years. The entire family is Lithuanian. Due to her age at the time of sailing Gana has only a few memories of the voyage, but like there is one specific memory remains high on the list of the main reasons for, and that was of her being seasick a great deal of the time!

I met Gana Ralph and her family on Saturday the 9th of August in the afternoon and we had a delightful time together. Gana said that for her visiting the ship was to be able “to see and relive a part of my life, for the ship gave my family the opportunity for my family to escape from communism to a land that was free, and this brought us to a land of hope!”

Mrs. Gana Ralph holding the SS Roma photograph in the VIP Lounge

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –


Gana Ralph is shows Captain Ashley McDonald the original SS Roma Postcard

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

Having arrived in Newcastle the Zygis family moved up to Murarrie on a farm during a drought. Gana remembers that on the farm there was a beautiful black stallion and she went up close to him, but somehow they did not get on and she was injured. Later the farm owners who had a house in West End gave them accommodation there, although it was very basic, they made do. They lived there until Mr. Zygis eventually purchased a house at Rockley which had a full acre of land. Gana tell me that her Mother Barbara was an avid gardener and that she tended her large garden to the end. But, sadly Barbara passed away at the age of almost 93, on November 21, 2005.

Gana Ralph with Captain Ashley McDonald and the author

Photograph by & © 2008 Marli Terelli –


Gana with the author and Marli Terelli, Doulos’ Media Relations Officer

Photograph by & © 2008 Sven Benseler –

The Urban’s

Husband and wife, Josef and Katharina Urban were two of the 950 Eastern European passengers onboard the SS Roma, and it was a delight to meet this vibrant lady on Wednesday 13 August 2008 on the MV Doulos.

Katharina and Josef Urban’s Wedding photograph

Provided by Kath Urban

We met Kath who came with Liana Horne (nee Gurgacz) on Wednesday afternoon, 13 August.

Kath was the young wife of Josef and both ere looking forward to a new life on the other side of the world. Like most on the Roma they had suffered hardship during their relatively short lives. Upon boarding the Roma, they discovered that they would be sleeping in different parts of the ship and Kath was put to work, however soon she became ill and after two weeks the ships doctor told her that she was pregnant and she was release from her work duties and being rather ill, it was decided to make sure that she was alright and confined to her cabin for most of the voyage.

The author is to meet with Kath Urban and Annemarie Gurgacz in September for further talks.

Kath Urban happily poses in front of the Doulos the ship that brought her “to a land of hope”

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –


Kath boards the Doulos and is ready to relive some of her days on the SS Roma

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –


Kath signs the memorial Roma Book with Sven Benseler

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –


Proudly holding the old Roma and sitting in front of a photo of the Doulos in Sydney taken in July 1999

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –


From left to right: Cath & Liane Horn, Kath Urban, and the author

Photograph by & © 2008 Sven Benseler –


Kath Urban forward of the Doulos at the International Café

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

The Gacesa Family

Peter Gacesa signs the 1950 SS Roma Book

Photograph by & © 2008 Sven Benseler –

Aged six, German born Peter Gacesa came to Australia on the SS Roma with his family and travelled with his Yugoslavian Father Jovo, his Mother Gertrud who was German and little brother Dragoljub.

Peter visited the Doulos on Thursday 14 August, but unfortunately I was not able to meet him personally. However, Doulos’ Partner Ministries Manager Sven Benseler was able to speak with him briefly and had Peter sign our commemorative SS Roma book and Sven also took some photographs and obtained Mr. Gacesa’s contact details. Therefore, I hope to meet up with Mr. Gacesa when I return from my time on the Doulos at the end of August and obtain further information.

Peter holding a photograph of the SS Roma with a photo of the Doulos behind him

Photograph by & © 2008 Sven Benseler –


Although Peter was only 6, he must still be some memories of his day’s on this amazing ship!

Photograph by & © 2008 Sven Benseler –

Eugen Hoffmann & Family

Mr. Eugen Hoffmann back on board the ship that brought him to Australia

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

On the 17th of August we were fortunate to meet Mr and Mrs Eugun Hoffmann at the “International Café” on the Doulos on what could be called a “per chance meeting.” His family of six sailed to Australia are from a Hungarian background. Travelling with him were: His Father Michael, Mother Elizabeth, 12 year old brother Andreas, 5 year old sister Erna and 2 year old brother Rudolf. I will meet with the Hoffmann family again at a later date for further information.

Eugen Hoffmann holding a photograph of the SS Roma as she was in the days he sailed on her

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens –

Paul Christmann / the Goworowski Family

 Paul holds the photograph of the SS Roma

Photograph by & © 2008 - Sven Benseler –

Whilst the Doulos was in Sydney, Paul Christmann visited the ship on Tuesday August 26, and we discovered that he also sailed to Australia together with his family, consisting of his stepfather Stefan Goworowski, his Mother, Anna, and his younger two year old brother Stefan. Although time was short, Paul was able to sign the commemorative book and photographs were taken. For interest, Paul decided to use his original German surname in Australia, which is Christmann.

 Paul signs the Commemorative 1950 SS Roma Passenger Book at the International Café

Photograph by & © 2008 - Sven Benseler –


Photograph by & © 2008 - Sven Benseler –

Paul Christmann has kindly put pen to paper in relation to the memories regarding his voyage on SS Roma, and I have placed it on a separate page. You will find it more than interesting reading! You will find it at the following link: Voyage to Australia in 1950 – SS Roma – by Paul Christmann.

Go to - My voyage to Australia on the SS Roma in 1950 – by Paul Christmann – Aug 2008


Or Chapter Four - Doulos at Sea Page One - Aug 19 & 21 - Brisbane to Sydney

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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.