The Africa line of the KPM was originally called JAMAL (Java Mauritius Africa Line), later changed to OJAL (Orient Java Africa Line) with Hong Kong & Shanghai added to the schedule. In 1938 the Ruys, Tegelberg & Boissevain were commissioned in the OJAL.
Unlike sisters Ruys & Tegelberg, the Boissevain was built in Germany, at the Hamburg yard of Blohm & Voss. Payment for the ship was effected through tobacco shipments from Sumatra to Germany due to economic circumstances and foreign exchange control regulations at the time. Tobacco was then considered a luxury goods which could not be purchased by Germany at the time.
The ship was named after Jan Boissevain (1836 - 1904), one of the founders of KPM, the others being W Ruys and P E Tegelberg.
1938 January: Amsterdam to Batavia??
1938 August 10th: The K.P.M. Line to Africa and other adjacent ports in the Indian Ocean was known as the Orient-Java-Africa Service, and operated by three very fine passenger motor liners— the Boissevain (14,134 tons), Ruys (14,155 tons), and the Tegelberg (14,150 tons). These vessels traded between Singapore, Java ports, Rodriquez, Mauritius, Reunion, Lourenco Marques, Durban and the Cape, then return to Java via Durban, Mauritius, Reunion, Tamatave, East Coast ports of Africa, and the Seychelles. This service, which was a monthly one, made wonderful progress during the last few years, and was becoming more popular with travellers and business people each year. In the first place, it provided a splendid trip for anyone who wished to travel from Australia or New Zealand to the East and then on to the various ports mentioned. And it is surprising the amount of cargo that this line carried for transhipment.
1939 - 1945 World War II
At the outbreak of World War Two the Boissevain was at Mombasa on September 3rd. For the next fifteen months it would continue to visit ports ranging from Capetown to Singapore, Saigon, Hongkong, Shanghai, Kohsiang, Manila, & Batavia (Jakarta).
Other locations visited included Mombasa, Zanzibar, Tamatave, Mahe (Seychelles), Sabah, Belaw, Port Louis, Lourenco Marques, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Mackay, Mossel Bay, Mauritius, Dar-es-salaam, Miri.
The Boissevain departed Mombasa on September 3rd, making five ports of call before reaching Shanghai on September 23rd. From here a circle of the South China Sea was completed, with three stops prior to reaching Kohsiang on October 14th. From here the Boissevain commenced an almost month long voyage to Capetown, arriving November 13th. The return voyage commenced on November 16th, reaching Shanghai on December 24th. Christmas was spent at Shanghai whilst the New Year was received in Hong Kong.
1940 January 9th: Press Release
The Boissevain departed Hong Kong on January 4th for Manila & Kohsiang arriving January 13th. Then followed another trip to Cape Town arriving February 12th. The ship was back at Shanghai by March 23rd. From Shanghai the Boissevain headed to Hong Kong, spending a week here, its longest stay anywhere for quite some time. Departing Hong Kong on April 4th it passed through Manila and six other ports before reaching Cape Town on May 12th. A week earlier the Netherlands had been overrun by invading German forces. For the time being this did not impact the Boissevain's sailing routes.
Cape Town was departed on May 14th making eleven stops before reaching Shanghai on June 25th. The Boissavain's next sailing was somewhat shorter, departing Shanghai on June 28th for Batavia with stops at Hong Kong, Manila & Miri before reaching Batavia on July 12th. Departing on July 14th Singapore was reached on July 16th, where the ship remained for three weeks.
1940 July 11th: Press Release
1940 July 16th: Press Release
1940 July 17th: Press Release
The routine of the Boissevain now changed, becoming a virtual shuttle between Singapore, Batavia, Sourabaya and Australian ports from Brisbane to Adelaide. The first of these shuttles departed Singapore on August 7th, Batavia (8/9th), Adelaide (17/18th), Melbourne (19th/22nd), Sydney (24/27th), Brisbane (Aug 29/30th), Sourabaya (Sep 9/10th), Batavia (12/13th) and Singapore (15th). This first Australian voyage differed from the later ones which would have Brisbane as the first and last port of call, with the vessel turning round at Adelaide. The turn around time at Singapore was on average five days. Five roundtrips followed this routine, seven weeks being common for their completion but extended port time could push this time beyond eight weeks. On the December 1940 trip the Boissevain was held at Sydney from December 5th to 21st. Christmas 1940 and the New Year were spent at Melbourne.
1940 September 23rd:Press Release
The regular Singapore - Australia sailings continued with great routine, until the sailing from Singapore on May 23rd, which reached Sydney on June 8th and remained here until July 5th before then sailing for Singapore, which was reached on July 22nd. Departing here on July 27th the Boissevain reached Adelaide via Sydney on August 21st. Then followed some local Australian east coast sailings, including possibly a month stopped at Sydney, before departing Adelaide on October 25th, via Sydney for Singapore arriving November 21st. The Boissevain departed Singapore on November 26th (it would not return here for a while), Batavia (Nov 28th/30th), Sourabaya (Dec 3rd), whilst enroute to Brisbane the Japanese declared war on the Allies. Brisbane was reached on December 11th and Sydney on December 14th. After two weeks at Sydney, including Christms the ship sailed for Melbourne on December 29th.
Two weeks were spent at Melbourne before sailing on January 15th for Adelaide, here an escort was provided to Sourabaya (Jan 27th/Feb 5th), Oosthaven (Feb 7th/12th) and Batavia arriving February 14th. An escort was provided for the return trip, departing Batavia on February 17th, reaching Fremantle on February 23rd and Sydney on March 6th. The Boissevain departed Sydney on April 25th (after conversion to carry troops?) for Lyttelton, (Apr 28th/May 10th), Balboa (Panama) (May 27th), New Orleans (June 3rd/23rd), arriving the Clyde on July 9th, the entire voyage from Sydney being sailed as an independent. On this voyage across the Atlantic from Cristobal it is reported that on July 1st whilst zig-zagging the foremast lookout reported a submarine ahead, which was also confirmed by the Chief Officer on visiting the foremast. It was soon noted the submarine had changed course to intercept the Boissevain. Under the command of Captain Jansen, the ship turned 180 degrees and the Chief Engineer was ordered to push the engines to the limit. The needle recording the speed showed the maximum of 20 knots, which was maintained for four hours until nightfall. Each cylinder lubricator was manned by a greaser to maintain a steady supply of lube-oil for the cylinders. After nightfall the ship resumed its original course. An inspection of the engines at Glasgow revealed several of the twenty four pistons had suffered cracks.
On August 28th convoy WS.22 including the Boissevain departed Clyde for Freetown (Sep 9th/13th), Durban (Sep 29th/Oct 3rd), now convoy WS.22B to Bombay (Oct 17th). The ship departs Bombay on October 26th for Cape Town, arriving November 10th, departed November 16th to Sourabaya without escort and arrives December 2nd. The Boissevain then sailed for the Clyde arriving in December and then sailing in convoy KMF.6 on December 26th to Algiers arriving on January 3rd 1943.
CHECK MKF.10A (Algiers - Clyde) Clyde, Mar 14, 1942
The Boissevain returns to the Clyde by January 14th then makes three roundtrips between mid-January & early June from the Clyde, two to Algiers and one to Oran. Between June 5th and August 16th the ship remains on the Clyde. On August 16th it joins convoy WS.33 from the Clyde via Gibraltar (Aug 23rd/Sept 3rd), Freetown (Sep 10th/14th), Takoradi (Sep 17th/22nd), Lagos (Sep 23rd/30th), Capetown (Oct 10th), Durban (Oct 13th/20th), Kilindini (Oct 26th), Bombay (Nov 4th/Nov 13th), Aden (Nov 18th), Suez (Nov 22nd). The ship remains in the Mediterranean visiting Port Said, Taranto, Philippeville, Algiers, Naples, and Oran, where Christmas Day is celebrated. On December 27th the ship sails in convoy MKF.27, arriving on the Clyde on January 4th 1944.
The Boissevain spends six weeks on the Clyde, then makes a Clyde - Naples roundtrip (Feb 21st - Mar 16th). On March 29th the Boissevain departs the Clyde for Gibraltar (Apr 6th), Freetown (Apr 11th), Lagos (Apr 15th/17th), Takoradi (Apr 18th/20th), Lagos (Apr 21st/27th), Freetown (May 1st/4th) and Gibraltar (May 11th).
At Gibraltar the Boissevain changes direction, departing on May 13th for Port Said (May 19th/21st), Aden (May 25th/27th), Bombay (Jun 1st/13th), Kilindini Jun 20th/23rd), Diego Suarez (Jun 26th/27th), then returning to Kilindini arriving July 1st. After two weeks at Kilindini the Boissevain departed on July 14th for Aden (Jul 19th), Suez (Jul 22nd), Port Said (Jul 28th) arriving on the Clyde on August 11th. The Boissevain then spent six weeks on the Clyde.
On October 1st the Boissevain departed the Clyde for Gibraltar (Oct 5th/7th), Freetown (Oct 13th/14th), Takoradi (Oct 17th/18th), Lagos (Oct 19th/25th), Takoradi (Oct 26th/29th), Freetown (Nov 2nd/3rd), and arrived Gibraltar on November 9th. The next five weeks were spent in the Mediterranean visiting Port Said (Nov 20th/24th), Taranto (Nov 28th/29th), Port Said (Dec 2nd/8th), Algiers (Dec 13th) and Gibraltar arrived December 19th. From here the ship reached Freetown (Dec 25th/26th) and arrived Lagos on January 6th 1945
Lagos was departed on January 7th, then Takoradi (Jan 8th/9th), Freetown (Jan 12th/14th), Gibraltar (Jan 19th/21st) and arrived on the Clyde on January 27th, where it remained for six weeks (or may have been in use between Gibraltar and Freetown).
The Boissevain departed the Clyde on March 10th, then Gibraltar (Mar 17th), Freetown (Mar 23rd/25th), Lagos (Mar 30th/Apr 1st), Freetown (Apr 5th/7th) and arrived Gibraltar on April 12th. Departing Gibraltar on April 13th, then Port Said (Apr 19th/20th) and arrived Bombay on April 28th. The Bossevain then reversed its route, departed Bombay on May 1st for Suez (May 8th), Port Said (May 10th), Gibraltar (May 15th/17th) and arrived Liverpool on May 22nd, then moving to the Clyde.
After six weeks on the Clyde the ship departed on July 4th for Port Said (Jul 13th/14th) and arrived Bombay on July 21st. The Bossevain would then spend six weeks in the Indian Ocean departing Bombay on August 6th for Karachi (Aug 8th/9th), Basra (Aug 12th/15th), Karachi (Aug 19th/21st), Bombay (Aug 22nd/Sep 2nd), Port Dickson (Sep 12th/14th) and arrived Rangoon on September 17th.
The Boissevain departed Rangoon on September 19th for Colombo (Sep 22nd/23rd) and arrived Liverpool on October 12th, returning liberated Allied prisoners of war.
The ship remained at Liverpool until November 23rd when it sailed for Marseilles (Nov 30th/Dec 2nd), Trincomalee (Dec 17th/18th), Singapore (Dec 22nd/23rd), Saigon (Dec 25th/29th) and then back to Singapore arriving December 31st 1945.
1946 - 1968
1946 January: January 19th former internees of the Japanese and released Allied prisoners of war boarded at Tandjung Priok, arrived Amsterdam on February 16th.
1946 July 30th: Resuming service to Hong Kong. The regular Eastern and Australian Line service between Sydney and Hong Kong will be resumed in a few days with the departure from Sydney of the Nellore. The shipping service to the Dutch East Indies cannot be resumed until the waterfront unions in Australia decide to handle shipping on this route. The Holland-Australia Line ships, Ruys, Tegelberg, Boissevain and Nieuw Holland will probably be employed on this service when the unions reach a decision.
1947 February 1st: Mutiny is reported to have broken out among 200 Dutch marines on their way to the Netherlands East Indies aboard the 14,000 ton Dutch ship Boissevain. The Netherlands naval information service said that Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Debruyn and six officers have flown to Cairo to take command of the detachment.
1947 December 25th - January 4th 1948: the Boissevain was at Durban, westbound, on her first peacetime voyage after the ending of troop service.
1948 January 30th: Australia - Singapore ship run. Dutch cargo vessels will resume the run between Singapore and Australia in March and "white" passenger ships like the Nieuw Holland may be seen again in Australian waters later in the year. The K.P.M. office in Singapore announced today that the 9,000ton cargo ships Tjikampek and Tjipondok, belonging to the subsidiary Royal Java-China Packet Line, will begin a monthly service in March to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle, and direct back to Singapore, taking 60 days for the round trip. More tonnage was becoming available and other cargo vessels would be brought in to maintain a monthly schedule.
It was hoped to resume a passenger service early and the Nieuw Holland was expected to be released soon by the Dutch Government. Other "white" ships which might be used were the Ruys, the Tegelbcrg and the Boissevain-14,000-ton vessels. The passenger run would be Singapore to Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Singapore.
1952 April 5th (approx): the Boissevain from Singapore to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including Penang, Mauritius, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Beira and Lorenco Marques and four South African ports then Cape Town. Then Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santos and Rio.
1953 June 15th: Hongkong. Revenue officers yesterday seized 2000 taels of gold valued at 600,000 Hongkong dollars on board the Dutch ship Boissevain, which is due to sail for Japan today. No arrests were made.
1955 November 2nd: the Boissevain called in at Tristan de Cunha to collect lobsters from the local fishermen.
1956 March 1st: whilst en-route from Cape Town to South America, the ship's doctor (Dr J J Koppes) performed a successful operation for acute appendicitis of the 5th engineer of the ship (H A Slettenar).
1960 September: Five passenger vessels were selected for the installation of air-conditioning throughout the 1st Class accommodation (Boissevain, Ruys, Tegelberg, Tjitjalengka & Tjinegara). The first three would also undergo modernisation of some interior spaces, including the plumbing services. It was expected each vessel would be out of service for three months. The Boissevain would be the first to be dealt with, commencing February 1961 in Hong Kong.
1961 January 24th: during the morning of January 24th the Boissevain moored alongside the Taikoo dockyard in Hong Kong for the commencement of various improvements. Air-conditioning was to be added to the first class passenger accommodation, officers cabins, dining room, lounge and smoking room, Pursers' office, library, nursery, ironing rooms, hospital, hair dressing salon & shop. The Intermediate cabins were to be demolished, to be replaced by twelve first class double berth cabins. Approximately 900 workers from multiple trades were involved in the changes.
1961 May 5th: late in the evening of May 5th the Boissevain departed Hong Kong on her first voyage following the improvements made. On May 24th whilst on a westbound sailing the Boissevain passed the Ruys undergoing the upgrading at Kowloon.
1962 July 17th: Captain H Prins, lately in charge of the Boissevain retired after 36 years with KPM. His last voyage ended at Yokohama Japan on August 4th. During World War II Captain Prins was imprisoned for three and a half years.
1962 August 17th: Boissevain departed Kobe for South America.
1962 October 3rd: the Boissevain detours to Tristan da Cunha to embark two Danish journalists who had spent two weeks on the island gathering stories. They had arrived during September on the mv Straat Bali.
1963 March/April: the Tristan da Cunha islanders displaced when the volcanic eruption forced the islanders from their homes during October 1961, began their journey back to the island on March 17th 1963, departing Tilbury on the RMS Amazon to Rio de Janeiro. Here the 51 passengers transferred to the Boissevain, arriving Tristan da Cunha on April 9th 1963.
1963 June 30th: Boissevain at Singapore.
1963 September 27th: at Port Louis, Mauritius
1964 June 8th: the Boissevain arrived at Santos to disembark 102 Okinawans who were emigrating to Bolivia. From Santos the emigrees faced a six day train journey to the Santa Cruz area of Bolivia. To assist with the Japanese passengers the Boissevain, Ruys, Tegelberg & Tjitjalengka are equipped with Japanese style bathrooms, have a Japanese interpreter on board, a Japanese cook, carry Japanese language newspapers and magazines and show European, American & Japanese movies.
1965 February 17th: a set of postage stamps issued by the island of Tristan da Cunha featured two of the RIL ships, the Tjisadane (1/-, one shilling) and the Boissevain (2/6d, two shillings and sixpence) - both vessels would occasionally call at the island and both were involved in the history affecting the islanders and the volcanic eruption during October 1961.
1965 June: the ship would undergo an extensive DMO in Japan, which will cause her to miss the July ASAS sailing.
1965 August 12th: the Boissevain departed Yokohama with passengers including their Imperial Highnesses Prine & Princess Mikasa, daughter Princess Yasuko and son Prince Tomohito, travelling to Kobe(?) Also onboard were twenty Japanese emigrants from Japan to Brazil, travelling in third class. August 23rd docked at Hong Kong.
1965 December 25th: the Boissevain was at Yokohama for Christmas Day.
1967 April: Royal Interocean Lines announced plans to retire the Ruys, Tegelberg, Boissevain & Tjitjalengka during 1968.
1968 June 21st: departed Hong Kong for the final time.
1968 scrapped Kaohsiung.
Built: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
The newspaper article below from January 29th 1943, although primarily covering the Marechal Petain, does make reference to the Boissevain in the text.
1943 January 29th:
The liner Normandie will ever stand as a monument to French marine engineering and naval architectural imagination. The Kairouan, built for the North African service, and a vessel in which much of the experience gained as a result of building and operating the Normandie has been used, has recently been launched and presumably is fitting out. Now comes further detailed news of the big triple screw motor liner Marechal Petain. She is the sixth big motorship with this number of screws for propulsion in the world, and the eighth if we include two British-built ships constructed on the Clyde and engined by Harland & Wolff Ltd. for service on the River Plate.
The Boissevain. The two ships last mentioned were built in 1929. No further triple-screw motorship joined the world's merchant fleets until the Koninklijke Paketvaart Maats took delivery of the Boissevain and two sister ships in 1938. These 14,134 tons gross liners were designed for the service connecting Hong Kong with South Africa. Their engines had a total of 10,800 h.p., each machine running at different revolutions for the same output.
Just before the outbreak of war came the 19,850 tons gross Oranje for the Java service of the N.V. Hijoomvaart Maats, Nederland; this ship had 37,500 h.p. on her three screws. The ill-fated Stockholm, originally intended for the Swedish American Line, after being burned out, was reconstructed and sold to the Italians. This 28,000 tons gross triple screw ship had engines developing 22,000 s.h.p. It is interesting to remark that in each case mentioned, with the exception of the river ship which pioneered triple-screw propul sion, the same type of machinery has been employed, the Sulzer single-acting two-cycle engine. In each ship the desire of the designer has been clear, namely, the provision of a large power output, in proportion to the size of the ship, with a low headroom, thus permitting the passenger decks to be built as low down in the ship and with as little interruption as possible from any up takes. Some naval architects and engineers think that this desirable end is better accomplished by gearing engines in pairs to the screw, but the triple-screw tech nique has now advanced so far that it is likely to have an effect upon past-war ship design.
The owners of the Marechal Petain are the Cie. des Messageries Maritimes, whose immediate pre-war fleet comprised 22 steamers and nine motorships on the Services Contraetuels side, and 11 other steamers. The Marechal Petain has been built for her owners Far Eastern service. She has a load displacement of 18,900 tons, a gross tonnage of 15,500 tons and a total deadweight capacity of 5600 tons. The maximum engine power is stated to be 31,000 b.h.p., which is within 6,500 h.p. of the maximum output of the Oranje, hitherto the world's most powerful motorship. The normal output, however, is 25,000 b.h.p., the corresponding speeds being 22 and 23 knots. In the normal course of events the Marechal Petain, which was launched recently, would have run to the eastern service with motorships of the 'Felix Roussel' class, but will be much larger and faster than those vessels. The Messageries Maritimes was one of the few French companies to show any interest in the oil engine, and in the past had used both licence-built Burmeister & Wain four-cycle and Sulzer two-cycle diesels. The total output of the Felix Roussel, on twin screws, is only 11,000 b.h.p., her speed being 17 knots, so it will be seen that a great step-up in speed has been contemplated. Doubtless when this liner was designed the owners had in mind that nearly all the companies engaged in trading to the Far East were building bigger and faster ships, and doubtless the triple-screw motor liner Oranje must have been one of the main contributory causes to the Marechal Petain being laid down.
The liner was built at La Ciotat. The three main engines are of licence-built Sulzer design and are of the standard type employed in previous ships, in particular in three fast cargo liners designed for Far Eastern services. Each motor has 11 cylinders, of 720 mm. diameter and 1250 mm. stroke, and it is expected that the 'tons-per-24 hours' at the lower speed mentioned above will be 110 tons. It is also stated that the fuel capacity is 1710 tons.
If she is interesting on the main propelling side, the Marechal Petain is outstanding on the auxiliary side, for alternating current is to be used for all purposes throughout the ship. If this statement is to be interpreted literally, then the new French liner will be the first motorship, apart from those in which electricity is used for propulsion itself, in which such an arrangement has been made. Details of the electrical equipment are meagre, but it would appear that four Sulzer diesels drive 950 K.V.A., 220 v., 50-period, 3-phase alternators, and that pump mo tors, ventilator motors, deck gear, refrigerating and cooking plant are run at this voltage, suitable transformers being fitted for the lighting current.
The Distillation Plant. It will be recalled that one of the interesting features of the design of the Oranje was the distillation plant. A similar plant is to be installed in the new French ship, and Sulzer-Lamont exhaust gas boilers are to be used in conjunction with it. It is stated that 150 tons of fresh water will be produced per hour, of which 10 tons are to be used in the cooling circuits for main and auxiliary engines and 140 tons for hotel services. By this means it has been possible to reduce to only 490 tons the amount of fresh water carried in the tanks.
In appearance this important motorship is something like the Union-Castle motor liners as regards the funnel and to some extent the stern, and the Normandie as regards the bow, the same curved raking stem being designed. The superstructure has a curved end, rather raking forward, somewhat reminiscent of that used in the Danish mail ship Kronprins Olav. This new French motor liner, on the other hand, has not adopted the device used, in the Oranje of having only one mast, since she has two masts of normal appearance, though the mainmast appears to be rather lower than the foremast.
Two classes of passengers only are to be carried, in contra distinction to some French ships, which sometimes carry five classes and sub-classes. There will be only 374 passengers in first and tourist, but there are interchangeable cabins, so that first class and tourist may be increased or decreased as desired. Some 260 emigrants and deck passengers can also be carried. The Marechal Petain, then, is France's latest contribution to the art of motorships and engines. Few distinguished motorships have entered on their career at a more difficult period in shipping history. That her completion may be considerably delayed seems very likely; that she is a milestone on the long road of marine diesel engine development is inescapable, and further details about her will be of great interest to the shipping industry.
Page added February 15th 2016