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 other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed over 700 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of 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 


A spotless MV Doulos arrives in Sydney on July 4, 1999 for her second last visit to Australian!

Photograph © copyright 2008 Ramon Williams – used with permission


This work is owned, protected under International © copyright laws and is the property of Reuben Goossens of

No part of this work including any of the images shown therein may be copied, or neither reproduced by any means nor reproduced in any format, be it for private or commercial usage without prior written permission from the author.

Part One-


What is considered “Vintage” in maritime circles?

In maritime circles, thirty years is considered the average life span of a passenger ship and any ship sailing longer than thirty years is considered being a classic. Being an Australian, in this in stance I will use P&O Cruises Australia’s TSS Fairstar (built as the Oxfordshire) as an example. She retired at the age of forty and departed Sydney on February 16, 1997, heading for an Indian breakers yard and was renamed Ripa. Her successor the TSS Fair Princess (ex Cunard Line Carinthia, Sitmar Cruises Fairland and Princess Cruises Fairsea) also concluded her Australian cruise programme at the ripe age of forty-five years, but she returned to Sydney from her final cruise on November 10, 2000, and was sold to become a Asian Casino-based cruise ship and she was renamed TSS China Sea Discovery, but was sold in 2005 to the breakers aged an amazing 50 of age, which was close to a record for a passenger ship. The Fair Princess was considered a genuine vintage liner when she reached the half-century mark in 2005, and she was just one of a just a very small number left in the world that remained active until such a great age.

Fair Princess was considered a vintage ship at 45 years. She is seen here mid 2000

Photograph by & © 2000 Reuben Goossens

Remarkably, this fine ship could have gone on for a few more years had she been well maintenance, but during her final Asian Casino ship days she was very badly managed and the company finally went into liquidation, meaning the end of what was once a great Trans-Atlantic ocean liner and a South Pacific cruise ship!

But, when it comes to the MV Doulos we are speaking of one solitary ship that stands out above every other ship in the world. For there is nothing to compare her to any other ship, for obviously the Doulos is a ship that has surpassed all ships on the globe and has almost doubled them in years. The Doulos is a ship with an amazing ninety-six year history, and she amazingly sailed the globe until she was finally decommissioned by her owners on December 31, 2010. She was placed on the market, but at the time of this update a sale has not been finalised.

Please Note: Although Part One of this work was originally written in 1999, it has been regularly updated, and this it will be reflected in Doulos’ age descriptions and details given in relation to some of her modifications in certain chapters. Part two of this work covers the time the Doulos arrived in Brisbane Australia on 31 July 2008 for her final visit to our shores whilst on her last major world voyage and it follows her around Australia and into Asia. At the end of each chapter, you will find a link to the next chapter as well as a link to MV Doulos’ Main Index.

Doulos’ 1999 Australian visit that inspired this online work!

The Doulos is seen arriving in Sydney and passing the Sydney Opera House on Sunday July 4, 1999

Photograph © copyright Ramon Williams – used with permission

Although the MV Doulos made her first call to Australia in 1989, for the author and many ship lovers alike, it was a special occasion on Sunday July 4, 1999, when the world’s oldest deep sea passenger ship still in service sailed through Sydney Heads and into Sydney Harbour on America’s Independence Day.

This elegant vintage lady gracefully slipped past the Sydney Opera House and gently manoeuvred alongside the Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay, where she remained berthed until July 26. Whilst in Sydney in 1999, she had twenty official “open days,” during which some 49,880 people came to visit the ship. Some 85% of the visitors to ship come because of the news on all the media and publications around that time that the (then) 85 year old “World’s oldest active ocean-going passenger ship that was built two years after the Titanic is visiting Sydney.” Thus she became an automatic magnet to ship lovers and Sydneysiders, especially as she was berthed in the heart of the City and at Circular Quay no less for the duration! The truth is the vast majority of people did not come to visit her because she had a book shop on board or even because that the ships owners GBA - “Gutte Buche fur Alle” (Good Books for all) and OM Ships International - “Operation Mobilization” is a Christian based Outreach Ministry sailing their two ships around the world. NO, they came because the Doulos was the oldest and most historic ship on earth!

MV Doulos and her Ministry:

MV Doulos was launched on August 22, 1914; just two years after the Titanic departed Southampton on that ill-fated voyage. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Doulos is the “World’s oldest active ocean-going passenger ship” and the minute anyone lays eyes on her there is no doubt that this ship is an amazing piece of maritime history one look at her supreme counter stern and you know that this is a ship that is very special!

In addition, she serves in a very special role as she sails around the world, for the Doulos is a ship that brings “Knowledge, Help and Hope” to so many needy countries around the World! I will cover this part of the ship’s duties later when we reach the Doulos chapters, but following words from the Bible could well sum it up:

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Habakkuk 2:14.


Doulos’ arrival at the Sydney Passenger Terminal

Photograph © 1999 Marion Carter


Doulos in Sydney 19 July 1999

Photograph by & © 1999 Reuben Goossens

MV Doulos - A brief career summary

During her 96-year career, she carried four names and has served in four very different roles. The Motor Vessel Doulos was originally built as the Steam Ship SS Medina and then sold. During her long career she had a total of four names appear on her bow and stern, Medina, Roma, Franca C and the Doulos.

But originally, she was built as a simple US freighter, the SS Medina, which transported fruit and vegetables to various US ports. After an amazing thirty-four-year civil career as well as serving during two World Wars, she was finally sold and was rebuilt into an austere migrant and refugee passenger ship. Later she had further renovations and she became a trans-Atlantic liner, thereafter an all first class luxury cruise ship. When she was a good sixty three years old, she was sold to a non denominational Christian organisation “GBA” for … “Gutte Buche fur Alle” today known as “OM Ships International” to become a floating book exhibition/shop and a Christian outreach ship to the world, and she continued sailing the globe until being decommissioned on December 31, 2010 in Singapore.

During her distinguished life she has been registered in the United States, Panama, Italy, and currently in Malta. MV Doulos had been continually upgraded by OM and she remains in superb condition and has all the latest safety and satellite technology! The Doulos meets all the International SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulations and was able to sail around the world until the new 2010 SOLAS regulations came into effect. She operated with a full crew and complement of 350 volunteer staff. However, after negotiations with RINa and MMA in Malta on 16 and 17 March 2009, it whas been decided that this historic liner could possibly continue (subject to official approval in writing by RINa and MMA) sailing past that date and even up to her 100thjbrithday on August 22, 2014. However, this was subject to further inspections and approval. And as we now know, this did not eventuate, as she did not pass regulations late in 2010, and she was sold.

This feature contains her entire history, from the day she was built and it will take you to her most recent world voyage which included her Farewell Voyage around New Zealand and Australia. As the myself, the author was fortunate not only to be able to spend a month aboard the ship, but I also sailed on this remarkable 94 year old ship and thus you will note that there is a Special - Doulos - 2008 section, which contains countless of photographs by the author and by some others of areas that have never been photographed or seen before.

A special thank You in relation to Part One - 1999

July 1999: I hereby wish to thank the following: The Captain of the Doulos, Captain Graeme Bird (now retired), Doulos’ Project co-ordinator, Marlieske Smilde, the wonderful Douloid’s, being the volunteer staff and crew from around the world, for their outstanding hospitality and co-operation for giving me the freedom of the ship whilst she was in Sydney. Also, a hearty thank you to Mr. Richard Beaumont who has sadly now retired from being Doulos' OM National Director in Australia, thank you Richard for all your wonderful assistance you were a wonderful example of what GBA and OM stood for, a far cry from the directors that occupy the offices in Germany today who almost sold her to the Indian breakers and they would have had I not intervened!

My Final time aboard the Doulos in 2008:

August 2008: I was fortunate for my superb time onboard the Doulos, not just whilst she was in Brisbane, from August 1st.but also to being able to sail on her from Brisbane and celebrate her 94th.birthday on August 22, 2008 and I even cut her 94th Birthday cake! In addition, there was great joy to meet quite a number of ex SS Roma passengers in Brisbane who came onboard, but in Sydney, there was sadly just one. You will find two pages online with details and they are interesting pages indeed (see the main index).

The author is seen arriving in Sydney on board the MV Doulos final Australian visit on August 21, 2008

These wonderful people came to Australia on this historic liner when she was the SS Roma back in 1950, which brought them to a land that gave them hope, and today this continues to do just that as the Doulos is a ship that brings hope to the world! During my time on the Doulos as a “Ministry Guest” I gave maritime lectures, as well as several Bible studies showing the other side of this maritime historian as I am also a Pastor. Whilst on board I was able to take hundreds of photographs and many of these can be seen on the 2008 - Part Two of this feature.

A special thank You for Part Two - 2008

There are some very special people I wish to thank the following on board the Doulos. The ship’s Director, Dr. Daniel Chae who was always so helpful and he has a great desire to see the ship survive! We had I fine time together discussing the ship and the Scriptures during my time on board! However, how can I ever forget my delightful host and now good friend on board, Sven Benseler and his lovely wife Mirjam and their delightful children, Joshua & Samuel. They made my stay on board very special and I soon became part of the Doulos family! Also, there was the delightful ship’s journalist Marl Terilli, who took great care of me whilst I was on board and thank you for the delightful times we had chatting during mealtime with your husband at supper time. Not to forget, two very special people, Dominic Bothello the Chief Engineer who always made me smile and I always want more time with this wonderful man and his delightful family! And the ever effervescent Filipe the Project Coordinator, who was a delightful young man with a heart desire to learn more and more and to take in all that, is good! May the LORD bless you and thank you for all that you have given me! I also wish to thank Captain Ashley McDonald who was most generous with his time, allowing me on the Bridge as we departed Brisbane and giving me an interview in his private quarters. I recall discussing the future of the Doulos relating my vision, now in 2010 this vision has come to a realisation as the ship has indeed been sold to an Asian country and will become a maritime museum, hotel, restaurant, tourist venue and a Christian Centre and Bible School in Singapore!

To all the crew and staff on board, thank you for your outstanding hospitality and cooperation, and for giving me the freedom of the ship whilst I was with you on the historic Doulos, a ship I have been associated with since she was the wonderful cruise ship the MS Franca C back in 1971.

Go to Chapter One - SS Medina - 1914 – 1940 (Including Word War I)

Or 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.