Friday, January 01, 2010

South Africans May Save Oldest Passenger Ship

Representatives of a South African company are expected in Singapore next week to assess whether the world’s oldest operating passenger ship could have a life beyond its decommissioning today. Floyd Bascones, a media relations officer on the MV Doulos, said yesterday that the company’s representatives would decide whether the ship, built in 1914, could be converted into a maritime training facility and museum. If the company takes over the ship, it would be able to make a final voyage to SA by the end of March, he said. “But failing which, we would still negotiate with at least two other companies on keeping the 95-year- old Doulos afloat,” Bascones said. The ship was built two years after the Titanic. If talks failed the Doulos would be scrapped at an Indian shipyard from March 31, he said.The ship is owned by Christian charity Gute Bücher für Alle, or Good Books for All, which is based in Mosbach, Germany. The ship has been operating as an international floating bookshop since 1978. It took affordable books to ports where cheap books were not available, and has sailed to 104 states. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest active ocean-going passenger ship, the Doulos was declassified during its last dry-docking in Singapore under a new maritime law that prohibits vessels with combustible material from sailing from next year. Much of the vessel is wood. Bascones said an estimated 14m - 17m would be needed to extend its life. In previous incarnations it has been the cargo carrier Medina, the passenger ferry Roma and cruise liner Franca C. Sapa

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