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 

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

--MV Doulos--

Chapter Five

A New Role for a Grand Old Lady of the Sea

MV Doulos, another incarnation of the SS Medina, ex SS Roma & MS Franca C

Postcard - Author’s private collection

At the conclusion of the 1977 Mediterranean cruise season, Costa Cruises had decided to lay up the Franca C. However, certain passengers on Franca C’s very last cruise would soon have a decisive effect on the ships future! Costa decided the time had come to sell the old lady, which had served them faithfully for 25 years. Costa was quite certain that her days would finally come to an end, and that she would be purchased by one of the many breakers yards.

During her final cruise there were several representatives from a Christian charity organisation onboard, as they were in search for a second ship suitable for their operations. Realising the possibilities of this ship, as she was in a splendid condition, and combined with the reasonable price, they decided to purchase her. On November 4, 1977, the formal agreement was signed, and this superb vintage liner had been rescued once again from the breakers, for the third time. Following her purchase she was dry docked at Genoa, Italy where a number of repairs were completed.

The elegant MV Doulos by night

Provided by MV Doulos

The world’s largest floating book exhibition

MS Franca C was taken to Bremen, Germany, for her refit, and made ready for her new role. She was renamed MV Doulos, a Greek word meaning "Servant." This name clearly signified her future role. She was re-registered in Valletta, Malta. During the refit, the casino and some cabins were removed to be replaced by offices, classrooms and conference facilities. The Pool aft on boat deck was removed, and a lift installed down to the aft hold, which had become the Book store, thus the aft deck had become what we now know to be the world's largest floating book exhibition and bookstore covered by a large canopy. The Doulos generally carries up to 6,000 different titles with up to a grand total of 500,000 or more books, covering a wide range of subjects.

Finally, on June 3, 1978, after her refit in Bremen the Doulos commenced in her new role, and since then she has sailed the oceans of the world!



Above and below: Book exhibition is located aft on Boat Deck

Provided MV Doulos


Today, MV Doulos and her running mate, the MV Logos Hope, are entirely staffed by volunteers and under the banner of OM – Operation Mobilization.

MV Doulos usually has a complement of 320/350 crew and staff. Amazingly, all crew and staff onboard are volunteers and come from over 30 countries worldwide. This includes the captain, officers, engineers, etc, etc.

How are they funded? As these ships are entirely non-denominational, Churches, organisations, community groups or individuals from around the world sponsor a volunteer for two months, or up to two years.


Just forward of the book fair is the popular Café Shop

Provided by MV Doulos


Located far forward on Boat Deck is the Library

Provided by MV Doulos


“1993 Electrical Project”

The Doulos at Cape Town for the electrical refit

Photograph by & © 1993 Stephen Moore

At the ripe age of 79, it was realised that the Doulos needed significant modifications and urgent repairs. Due to a series of miracles, to say the least, the Doulos was saved once again from being scrapped and was given a major "Heart Transplant." You can read about this major event which took place in 1993 in Cape Town in the article entitled “1993 Electrical Project.” You can reach it via the INDEX at the bottom of this page.

In 1994 the aft stairwell was photographed when the delightful original Franco C Paulucci painting was still there. It was located on the

middle level between Lounge and Sun Deck, but it was removed and a smaller image placed there in stead


This is the Doulos image that replaced the superb painting seen above

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens


Photo Gallery


The Bridge – Sydney 1999

Photograph by & © 1999 Reuben Goossens


Engine Room

Photograph by & © Reuben Goossens 


Engine Room Controls

Photograph by & © Raoul Fiebig 


Propeller Shaft

Photograph by & © Raoul Fiebig


Looking forward toward to the funnel and up to Captain’s and Bridge Deck from Boat Deck

Photographs by & © 1999 Reuben Goossens


But Please Note: Here we see the original SS Media ladder going from Boat to Captain’s Deck with a gate at the top

Photographs by & © 1999 Reuben Goossens 


Two berth cabin with private facilities from the 1960s

Photograph by & © 1999 Reuben Goossens


A fine view of the funnel at night

Photograph by & © Raoul Fiebig 


In the meantime the Grand Dame sails on – Note the new satellite dome just aft of her funnel

History and the future has finally met up in March 2006

Photograph © 2007

MV Doulos Specifications

MV Doulos:   Her name is a Greek word for "Servant"

IMO:              5119105

Call Sigh:       9HKF

Built:             Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company USA

Tonnage:        6,818 GRT (Gross Registered Tons)

Launched:      22 August 1914 as SS Medina a coastal freighter (Mallory Shipping Co)

Length:          130.35m - 410ft

Width:           16.6m - 54ft

Draft:            5.5m - 18.2ft

Engines:         Steam triple expansion (1914)

                     Fiat Diesels - four stroke, V18-cyl unit, 5,958kW-8,100bhp, Intermediate fuel (installed in 1970)

Service speed: 12 to 15 knots

Propeller:       1 - fixed pitch propeller

Electric Plant:  3 AC Gen Sets 380V 50Hz
2 Bergen KRG 6 (1125 kVA)
1 Bergen KRG 5 (750 kVA)

Crew/staff:     350 / 414 (variable)

Special feature:  Counter stern.

Deck Arrangements 2008

Bridge Deck:   Wheel house/chart room.

Captain's Deck:   Captain & officer quarters.

Boat Deck:     Fwd: Library, officer quarters, radio station. Aft: Snack Bar, Book Exhibition (Open in port & open to the public).

Lounge Deck:  Lounges, VIP Lounge, Information Desk, offices, classrooms and a nursery. Covered promenade decks on both sides, and a spacious aft covered children’s deck/play area. Forward out on deck and Al Fresco “International Café” (Open only in port and open to the public)

Promenade Deck:       Dining room, galleys, bakery, cabins, sickbay, family quarter’s workshops, laundry, and side covered promenade decks.

Main Deck:     (Main Street) Cabins, Engine crew office & lounge, hospital, print and carpenters shop.

A & B Deck:    Cabins, book storeroom aft, baggage rooms holds 1 & 2 and engine room.

The above large plan of the Doulos was presented to the author as a special gift by the Doulos staff in 1999

It now hangs in my office


The name Medina can still be seen 95 years after her launching. Although this photo was taken on 18 August 2008

In addition her Costa Lines name Franca C can be seen behind the name Doulos

Note the F just to the left of the “D” of Doulos

Click HERE for an enlargement of this photograph

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens

Go to Chapter 6 - 1993 Electrical Project – MV Doulos received a “Heart Transplant” in Cape Town


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


Also visit our ENTER where the author has written on 700 Classic Ships & Liners!


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“Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”



Visit our Main INDEX

Where you will discover more than 700 Classic Passenger & Passenger-Cargo Liners! &

Where the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story


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