103 Year Old MV Doulos — on the Beach at Bintan

MV Doulos once held the title of the oldest operating passenger liner. Now 103 years old, the historic ship may be close to beginning a new life as a shoreside hotel in the resort town of Bintan, Indonesia. 

When the refurbished ship will open as a hotel is unclear. Reports from 2016 said that the newly named Doulos Phos The Hotel would open by early 2017. The project has been delayed, however. The Tribun Batam reports as of November that “… until the end of 2017, in the field, the hotel is still in the process of working. This can be seen from the number of workers and heavy equipment that are on site.” (Translated by Google from the original Indonesian.)

Back in 2010, we posted about how MV Doulos was saved from the scrap yard by Eric Saw, a Singaporean investor, who had intended to convert the ship to a floating multi-use facility in Singapore. When these plans fell through the ship was towed to Batam, Indonesia, to be refurbished before moving to the island of Bintan to become part of a US$25 million hotel resort. Following drydocking, the ship was hauled ashore on a spit of land adjacent to the Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal.

The Straits Times reports that the offically renamed Doulos Phos The Hotel will retain “pieces of its maritime history such as its engine room and bridge, which contains a century- old compass, and will be turned into a museum.  Its old wash basins will find new homes in the hotel’s toilets, while frames of bunk beds will be turned into day beds in guestrooms.

“On the captain’s deck will be the presidential suite – a cabin more than 1,000 sq ft in size boasting a private jacuzzi and barbecue pit. Its eight decks will be furnished to reflect different periods in the ship’s colourful history.

MV Doulos was built in the United States at Newport News Shipbuilding in 1914 as the SS Medina, a general cargo ship with passenger accommodations for the Mallory Steamship Company. SS Medina was initially used for transporting onions from East Texas to her home port, New York City. The ship served in both World Wars as a supply ship. 

She was converted to a passenger ship in 1949 and purchased by Costa Lines in 1952. Converted to a motor ship, she sailed for Costa Lines as the MS Franca C  between 1953 and 1977. 

In 1978 she was purchased by a German Christian charity, Gute Bücher für Alle (English: Good Books for All), renamed MV Doulos and was used as a globe-circling bookstore.

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4 Responses to 103 Year Old MV Doulos — on the Beach at Bintan

  1. Good lord I cannot believe that this vessel has not been scrapped. I have two connections with the ship. When I came to Nassau, Bahamas to join the “Bahama Star” (another old U.S. built ship) in 1968 the “Franca C” was berthed across the Pier from us. In those days there was only one Pier in Nassau anyway !! I got to know the crew and at least once a week I would lunch with the Italian Officers on board. Paths separated. After I retired from seagoing in 2003 I formed a small company to instruct in Nautical Science. One day I got a call that a ship the MV Doulos was in difficulties with the USCG and could I do some safety training on board. On arrival at the Port of Miami there was the “Franca C”. I spent two days instructing and holding drills and the USCG allowed the vessel to sail. (I surmise on condition she never returned to the U.S.)
    She was then in very poor condition though clean and very decent people. The Master was British and the excellent Bo’sun was German struggled to keep things together!! It really is time to scrap her as I suspect will actually happen.

    Good Watch

  2. Gerardo Arreaza says:

    I visited her in the early 80’s while she was a library and docked in Venezuela. I still have the books I bought at that time. Glad she is still afloat.

  3. Rick Spilman says:

    Technically, she is not still afloat. They have apparently moved the entire ship ashore. I too am pleased that she has apparently survived a bit longer.

  4. Rick Spilman says:

    She is currently hauled up on a beach which is typically a prelude to scrapping. The hotel project is more than a year behind schedule. It will be interesting to see if they do succeed in opening.

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