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 


--SS Medina--

Chapter One

Part One - 1914 to 1940

SS Medina

From the author’s private collection

Mallory Steamship Company ordered Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Company to build a new freighter, first known as “Hull number 176” and she became Newport News Shipbuilding first ever merchant ship to be built for previously they had only built the following when Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Company commenced in 1890:

1… 1891 - Tugboat Dorothy.

2… 1904 - USS Virginia - lead battleship of its class.

3… 1908 - SS Georgia - crude oil tanker.

4… 1912 - USS Texas - battleship of the New York class.

Therefore this 5,426 GRT (Gross Registered Ton) freighter would be a new venture for them and she was to be a ship, as dubbed in all the newspapers, “A ship ahead of her time.” However, as many know well that from small beginnings can come big things, and Newport News Shipbuilding has since become a giant in shipbuilding for today this yard is one of America’s major builders of warships, especially massive aircraft carriers and nuclear warship and subs.

SS Medina is seen here close to completion, in the Newport News Dry-dock 

Photograph from the Dovid J. Mendelssohn collection


 A stern view of the SS Medina

Photograph from the Dovid J. Mendelssohn collection


The official launching & naming party on 22 August 1914

Photograph from the Dovid J. Mendelssohn collection

She was officially named Medina on August 22, 1914, and was officially named after the Texan River Medina. She was delivered to her owners on September 29 and commenced her duties. The Medina would retain her name for the next 34 years. Medina’s identical sister ship the SS Neches (hull 175) was delivered to Mallory Steamship a month earlier on August 20 that same year and she bore the name of yet another American River. However sadly the SS Neches collided with another ship and she sank off the coast of England in 1918.

SS Medina passes the Statue of Liberty as she heads off for her maiden voyage

From the author’s Private collection

Medina’s appearance was certainly rather insignificant, and she did not show any signs of the incredible future that lay ahead of her. Her first task was to transport onions from New York to Galveston Texas. From her first day at sea she was worked hard, proving she was a ship of incredible strength and durability. SS Medina had a speed of 14 knots and was described in the September 1914 “International Marine Engineering” magazine as “One of the most modern and largest freight steamships operating on the Atlantic coast.”

In 1916 the Medina was transferred to the Matsonia Steam Navigation Corporation. Then, when World War I broke out, she was requisitioned and she became a US supply ship for the Army under the control of the US Navy. However, she also took on a command role at times.

On this page there are a number of interesting accounts that directly involve the SS Medina during WWI and WWII and these accounts are mostly accompanied with interesting images of the people and the other ships involved.

SS Medina - World War I

In one noted wartime incident, the SS Medina was the “Commodore ship” in a convoy of about twenty ships that included the USS West Bridge. On August 15, 1918, at 1740 hours the USS West Bridge’s Chief Engineer informed the Bridge that the main engine turbine rotor had been stripped and that the ship had to come to full stop for repairs. The Medina was immediately notified regarding the engine trouble. Located four miles ahead of the USS West Bridge was the USS Montana, which was torpedoed by a German Sub at 1800 hours. The Captain of the West Bridge was advised to keep the ship in darkness just in case, yet at 2358 hours a torpedo struck the West Bridge on her starboard side amidships and hit the engine room. The next torpedo hit twenty feet forward of the first. USS West Bridge quickly listed to starboard and the Captain gave the order to "Abandon Ship". Although it seemed that she was going to sink, she did not, but, she was abandoned and was declared a total loss, with four souls having lost their lives. Thankfully the Medina managed to escape from this dangerous situation without harm.

First Mate / Captain Roy W. Forbes SS Medina - 1918-1919

Photograph of First Mate of the SS Medina – Roy W. Forbes

Provided by & © 2008 Joanne Ninesling

I received an interesting email from Joanne Ninesling, Alexander City AL USA, as she wished to make sure that the SS Medina her Grandfather had served on was the same ship as the MV Doulos. Having seen the documentation she has provided, it certainly proves that it was!

Roy was born on July 18, 1893 and he was destined to become a sailor and from the documentation we have, we know that he served on SS Medina as First Mate, during 1918 and 1919. The document also proves that he sailed at least once across the Atlantic to Bordeaux France. The stamp at the rear of the “Certificate of Identification” is clearly marked “Bordeaux” as well as “Medina” written inside the stamp. Joanne told me, “During this visit to France, my grandfather brought my grandmother a Ruchot bronze lamp and a silk wrap, both of which we still have”.

ID Certificate for the voyage to Bordeaux France

Provided by & © 2008 Joanne Ninesling


 The back of ID Certificate – top left, the Bordeaux immigration stamp dated 1918

Provided by & © 2008 Joanne Ninesling

After his time of duty on the SS Medina was over, he became Captain Roy W. Forbes and he held a ticket to serve on “all vessels.” However, tragically Captain Roy W. Forbes died in 1922, when Joanne’s Mother was just 2 years old.

Casualties of war that I have been able to discover, related to the Medina’s was a Mr. Louis V Cease who served on her. He died on September 20, 1917, although details of his death are unknown. He was from the State of Kansas, and a Mr. Sydney A, Collard a British “Ordinary Signalman,” who died on November 1, 1918, apparently due to “illness.”

SS Medina

From the author’s private collection

SS Medina’s Modernisation

One record shows that she transported four “passengers” to Ellis Island New York, one on January 23, and one just two days later on January 25, 1919, and two in October 1920. This is based on information found on

Upon her return to the company the Medina was modernised and converted to being fired by coal to fuel oil in 1922. Ten years later, the Mallory Group merged with the Clyde Steamship Co and in 1934 merged with the New York and Porto Rico Steamship Co and later in her days she became part of the great “Agwilines” fleet.

Go to Part Two of SS Medina – World War II and her sale to become a passenger ship.


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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.