Sunday, November 09, 2008
It ought to be a proud milestone in the Dutch seafaring heritage — the construction of a new ship its owner claims will be the world’s largest.But there’s one problem: its name. Edwin Heerema, founder of the company that commissioned the $1.7 billion ship, wants to name it the Pieter Schelte after his late father, Pieter Schelte Heerema, a renowned maritime engineer who was condemned for his service in the murderous Nazi Waffen SS. The choice of name has provoked outcry and has revived painful questions about Dutch collaboration with the country’s World War II occupiers.“For people who know his pitch-black history, this ship should not be named for him. Not now, not ever,” said Ronny Naftaniel, director of CIDI, which monitors anti-Semitism in the Netherlands. Edwin Heerema’s company, Swiss-based Allseas Group SA, rejected criticism. Spokesman Jeroen Hagelstein said Heerema joined the Nazis out of opposition to communism but switched sides and joined the resistance in 1943.