willem ruys sulzer powered ships
Willem Ruys / Achille Lauro
Rotterdam Lloyd Lines / Lauro Lines
1946 - 1994

When the Netherland Line introduced the 'Oranje' in 1938 the competing Rotterdam Lloyd Line were compelled to match this level of speed and comfort with new vessels of their own. Their order for a new vessel was placed with the Koninklijke Maatschappij de Schelde shipyard in Vlissingen during January 1939. Construction on what was known as '214' was halted at the outbreak of World War Two, despite a variety of actions by the Germans and the Dutch Resistance against the partially completed hull, it remained substantially intact and outlived the war. After the hostilities ended work recommenced on completing the vessel. On July 1st 1946 the citizens of Holland witnessed the launching of the 'Willem Ruys', the vessel named after the founder of the Rotterdam Lloyd line, being christened by Mrs E E Ruys-van Houten, widow of Mr Willem Ruys.

The maiden voyage of the Willem Ruys commenced on December 2nd 1947 from Rotterdam to Batavia with 779 passengers. Advertising material described the Willem Ruys as a worthy successor to the Dempo and the Baloeran. A stop was made at Southampton on December 4th. The Suez Canal was passed through on December 11th, Singapore was reached on December 22nd where 108 passengers disembarked, with arrival at Tandjong-Priok, Batavia’s port, on Christmas Eve with nearly 700 passengers on board. The ship's doctor was required to perform an appendectomy on an eight year old boy at Malta. Whilst at Batavia the Willem Ruys took a short night cruise with members of the Dutch delegation considering terms for a cease fire and eventual independence for Indonesia. The return trip was made January 3rd - 23rd 1948. When the East Indies gained their independence in 1949 after two centuries of Dutch rule, the change led to a major upheavel in the level of service to be operated over this route.

As mentioned above the Dutch East Indies run was also worked by the rival vessel Oranje. However the timetabling for the two vessels ensured that if one month the Oranje sailed eastwards then the Willem Ruys would be travelling westwards that month. When the ships passed each other there was a tradition to draw nearer to each other to celebrate the passing, which in the passing of the ships in the Red Sea during the first week of 1952 led to their collision!

1948: March 15th at Singapore for Southampton.
1948: April 27th at Singapore from Europe.
1948: May 6th at Singapore for Southampton.
1948: June 15th transiting passengers and crew were not allowed to leave the ship whilst at Singapore due to an outbreak of poliomyelitis.
1948: June 23rd at Singapore for Europe.
1948: September 4th at Singapore from Europe, cargo included a seven ton rotor belonging to the 10,000 kW turbine at St. James Power Station. It had been sent to England for reconditioning.
1948: September 10th (timetabled) at Singapore for Southampton.
1948: October 27th at Singapore from Europe.
1948: November 6th at Singapore for Europe.
1948: December 23rd arrived at Singapore from Southampton. 200 passengers disembarked at Singapore, with 700 on board for the trip to Batavia.

1949: January 4th at Singapore for Europe.
1949: date?? the Willem Ruys struck the Meandes Shoals outside of Singapore causing slight damage to her propellers, requiring time in drydock for their repair.
1949: March 9th at Singapore.
1949: May 1st (?) departed Southampton, passengers included Queen Rhambal Barni of Siam, who had spent the last fourteen years living in England. She was travelling with the ashes of the late King of Siam. On arrival at Singapore on May 18th the ship received a 21-gun Royal salute from a battery at Biakan Mati. The Royal party and the King's ashes were transferred to the small Siamese vessel Bhanurangsi for movement to Siam. This was the last voyage for Captain C H Vellenga, who had been Captain of the Willem Ruys since her maiden voyage. Captain G H Visser would succeed in the position of Captain of the Willem Ruys.
1949: July, Captain G H Visser succeeded Captain C H Vellenga as the commander of the Willem Ruys. On his first eastbound sailing one third of the passengers were children, including 140 babies, one of which was born en-route in the Mediterranean.
1949: September 19th at Singapore from Europe, 235 passengers disembarked here including the new Bishop of Singapore, whilst 1,001 continued on to Batavia.
1949: November 22nd at Singapore from Europe for Batavia.

1950: January 24th at Singapore from Holland.
1950: March 26th at Singapore.
1950: April 6th at Singapore for Europe.
1950: June 1st at Singapore.
1950: June 10th (timetabled) at Singapore for Holland, passengers to the United Kingdom would include a party led by the Sultan of Brunei.
1950: August 1st at Singapore.
1950: August 11th at Singapore for Europe.
1950: October 1st at Singapore from Europe.
1950: October 11th at Singapore for Europe.
1950: November 30th at Singapore from Europe.

1951: January 31st at Singapore from Europe.
1951: April 3rd at Singapore from Europe.
1951: June 13th at Singapore from Europe.
1951: August 12th at Singapore from Europe.
1951: October 11th at Singapore from Europe.
1951: October 21st timetabled at Singapore for Europe.
1951: December 11th at Singapore from Holland, 253 passengers disembarked.
1951: December 21st at Singapore for Europe.

1952: February 10th at Singapore from Europe.
1952: February 20th at Singapore for Europe.
1952: April 21st at Singapore.
1952: May 1st at Singapore for Europe under Captain G H Visser, this was his last sailing as Captain of the Willem Ruys, after three years in this position.
1952: June 14th after departing Aden the Willem Ruys was forced to return after the fourth mate became ill and required hospital attention. It was hoped the time could be made up on the run to Belawan. Arrived Singapore on June 22nd. A lightening strike in Rotterdam affecting 250 deck stewards, cabin & bar boys over a wage dispute saw over 100 volunteers sign on for this round trip. Despite the newness of the work environment the volunteers were praised by the passengers for their efforts.
1952: July 1st at Singapore.
1952: August 19th at Singapore from Europe for Jakarta.
1952: August 29th at Singapore.
1952: October 22nd at Singapore from Europe for Jakarta.
1952: November 1st at Singapore.
1952: December 17th at Singapore from Europe.
1952: December 27th departed Singapore for Europe under the command of Captain Carel Geedewaggan. Ironically on this voyage the Willem Ruys sustained damage in a collision with its arch rival the Oranje off Port Sudan in the Red Sea on January 6th 1953 at about 10pm local time. Both continued on their scheduled sailings, the Oranje to Indonesia (but missing the stops at Colombo & Singapore, with passengers being flown from Djakarta to missed ports of call) and the Willem Ruys to Holland after six days of repairs at Port Said. Three holes were repaired above the waterline, some cargo in the foward holds had been damaged by seawater. After the collision the ship reduced speed to 15.5 knots until the pumping out of the water was under control at which point speed was increased to 18 knots. Passengers had the choice of remaining with the ship of flying on, at company expense to London. Southampton was reached on January 21st, with progressed delayed for many vessels in the English Channel by extensive fog. The Willem Ruys was then taken out of service for repairs, the next scheduled sailing was taken over by the Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt of the Nederland Line Shipping Company. Estimated cost of repairs to both vessels varied between $1,609,900 and $2,415,000.

1953: March 7th (timetabled) depart Rotterdam for Singapore, arrive March 23rd (actual).
1953: April 3rd depart Singapore for Rotterdam. Passengers included the Sultan of Perak and entourage, headed for a tour of Europe followed by attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The coronation had caused heavy bookings on all ships and airlines headed for England. For this sailing the ship was fully booked as early as September 1952 and with a waiting list of 300.
1953: May 18th at Singapore. Whilst en-route the Willem Ruys was diverted from its normal route across the Arabian Sea after a message from the Oranje warned of a very strong south-westerly monsoon. Despite the detour the Willem Ruys encountered rough sailing for three days. The Oranje suffered damage from the monsoon, putting into Aden for repairs, delaying the ship for one day.
1953: May 28th at Singapore.
1953: July 13th at Singapore from Europe.
1953: July 23rd at Singapore for Europe.
1953: September 7th at Singapore from Europe.
1953: September 17th at Singapore for Europe. Advertising advised sailing times were 14 days to Naples, 19 days to Southampton and 20 days to Amsterdam/Rotterdam.
1953: November 9th at Singapore from Europe.
1953: November 19th at Singapore for Europe.

1954: January 4th (timetabled) at Singapore then to Jakarta.
1954: January 14th at Singapore for Europe. For the first time a call would be made at Gibraltar, but only on the westbound sailings.
1954: March 1st at Singapore from Europe.
1954: March 11th at Singapore for Europe.
1954: May 3rd at Singapore from Europe.
1954: May 13th at Singapore for Europe.
1954: June 28th at Singapore from Europe.
1954: July 8th at Singapore from Djakarta for Europe.
1954: August 23rd at Singapore from Europe.
1954: September 2nd at Singapore from Djakarta for Europe.
1954: November 4th at Singapore from Europe. The Willem Ruys arrived with 3,065 bags of mail from the United Kingdom, which had been loaded at Southampton because of a dockers strike in London. Special labourer teams boarded the ship to unload the mailbags whilst Post Office workers on the wharf began the sorting process.
1954: November 13th at Singapore for Europe.
1954: December 28th at Singapore from Europe.

1955: January 7th at Singapore from Djakarta for Europe.
1955: February 22nd at Singapore from Europe.
1955: March 4th at Singapore from Djakarta for Europe.
1955: April 26th, on arrival at Singapore two sick passengers were rushed to hospital. En-route two deaths had occurred, the ship's assistant barber Mr A Dent, 25, died of acute appendicitis as the ship made all speed for Port Said. A 15 month old baby died prior to the liner reaching Colombo.
1955: May 6th at Singapore for Europe from Djakarta, Southampton (May 25th), Rotterdam (May 26th).
1955: June 21st at Singapore from Europe.
1955: July 1st at Singapore from Djakarta for Southampton (July 20th), Rotterdam (July 21st).
1955: August 16th at Singapore for Jakarta. Disembarking at Singapore were the Sultan of Johore & the Sultan of Perak, both returning from the United Kingdom.
1955: August 26th at Singapore from Djakarta for Southampton (Sept 14th), Rotterdam (Sept 15th).
1955: October 18th at Singapore from Europe.
1955: October 28th at Singapore for Southampton (Nov 16th), Rotterdam (Nov 17th).
1955: December 13th at Singapore from Europe.
1955: December 23rd at Singapore for Southampton (Jan 11th), Rotterdam (Jan 12th).

1956: February 7th at Singapore from Europe.
1956: February 17th at Singapore for Southampton (Mar 7th), Rotterdam (Mar 8th).
1956: April 3rd at Singapore from Europe.
1956: April 13th at Singapore for Southampton (May 2nd), Rotterdam (May 3rd).
1956: June 5th at Singapore from Europe, June 10th (?) at Djakarta for Singapore, a 14 year old Dutch boy was classified as a stowaway whilst exploring the ship and getting lost. He was removed from the ship at Singapore for return to his parents in Djakarta. The Willem Ruys departed Singapore on June 16th for Europe.
1956: June 15th at Singapore for Belawan, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Gibraltar, Southampton (July 4th) & Rotterdam (July 5th).
1956: July 31st at Singapore from Europe.
1956: August 11th at Singapore for Belawan, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Gibraltar, Southampton (August 29th) & Rotterdam (August 30th), passengers embarking included the Sultan of Jahore for Britain.
1956: September 19th at Cape Town (not via Suez Canal), Colombo (Sept 29th), October 2nd at Singapore from Europe, Djakarta (Oct 5th). The lengthier sailing route had delayed the mail travelling on the ship, at Singapore 3,080 bags were removed by postal workers and 34 Singapore Harbour Board labours, using four lorries.
1956: October 2nd at Singapore from Europe.
1956: October 5th (timetabled), actual October 11th at Singapore for Belawan, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Gibraltar, Southampton (October 24th) & Rotterdam (October 25th).
1956: November 19th (timetabled) Cape Town, Colombo (Nov 28th), Belawan (Dec 1st), Singapore December 3rd Singapore from Europe for Djakarta (Dec 4th), the cargo included 5,000 bags of mail including the first Christmas mail. It took six and a half hours to unload the mailbags.
1956: December 4th (timetabled), actual December 11th at Singapore for Belawan (Dec 12th), Colombo (Dec 15th), (diverted due to Suez crisis) Cape Town (Dec 24th), Las Palmas (Jan 2nd), Southampton (Jan 6th) & Rotterdam (Jan 7th).

1957: timetabled dates for the 1957 Singapore departures (as advised at March 1956) were February 1st, March 29th, May 31st, July 26th, September 20th & November 22nd, as can be seen these were later revised as the sailing dates slipped.

1957: January 14th (timetabled) Rotterdam, Southampton (Jan 15th), Cape Town (Jan 27th), Colombo (Feb 5th), Belawan (Feb 8th), Singapore (Feb 9th) for Jakarta. A passenger had been reported lost overboard whilst in the Mauritius area, the ship's log recorded the disappearance of Wing Commander William Chadwick as an accident.
1957: February 19th at Singapore for Europe.
1957: April 20th at Singapore from Europe.
1957: April 30th at Singapore from Djakarta for Europe.
1957: July 2nd at Singapore from Europe.
1957: July 12th at Singapore for Belawan, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Gibraltar, Southampton (July 31st) & Rotterdam (Aug 1st). In recognition of the re-assignment of former Air Commodore A E Clouston & Air Marshal Sir Francis Fressanges (?) from Singapore, Royal Air Force aircraft from Seletar, Changi & Tengah provided a farewell flypast over the Willem Ruys at 6pm.
1957: August 27th at Singapore from Europe, passengers included the 83 year old Sultan of Johore.
1957: September 6th at Singapore for Belawan, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Gibraltar, Southampton (Sept 25th) & Rotterdam (Sept 26th).
1957: October 22nd at Singapore from Europe. Two pantry boys were arrested on arrival of the ship, being accused of trying to smuggle United States gold coins into Singapore.
1957: November 1st at Singapore for Belawan, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Gibraltar, Southampton (Nov 20th) & Rotterdam (Nov 21st).
1957: December 21st at Singapore from Europe, December 27th arrived at Jakarta with about 80 Indonesian passengers, the ship's Dutch crew & officers were not permitted to land. The Indonesian Embassy at the Hague had refused requests for visas for Dutch passengers, causing many cancellations. However 119 Dutch nationals were granted temporary shore passes at Singapore to allow a visit to obtain clearance from local Indonesian authorities, as at the Hague no visa were granted.

1958: January 3rd at Singapore for Belawan, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Gibraltar, Southampton (Jan 22nd) & Rotterdam (Jan 23rd).
1958: February 19th at Singapore from Europe.
1958: February 28th at Singapore for Belawan, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Gibraltar, Southampton (Mar 19th) & Rotterdam (Mar 20th).
1958: February to September it was planned that the Willem Ruys would only sail to Jakarta.
1958: The departure from Rotterdam late in March marked the end of one chapter for the Willem Ruys. It arrived at Singapore on April 14th, then on to Djakarta before starting its last westbound run, being at Singapore on April 21st. The remaining timetabled departures for 1958 were cancelled. Falling demand was the cause of the removal of the Willem Ruys from the service it had worked for just over a decade.

The Willem Ruys was scheduled to make two cruises to New York prior to a charter by the Europe Canada Line for the Canadian trade. After this brief time on the North Atlantic run the ship visited the Wilton-Fijenoord shipyard for a major facelift to allow useage on world service to Australia & New Zealand. This new service began in March 1959, alongside rivals Johan van Oldenbarnevelt & Oranje, all now operating under the 'Royal Dutch Mails' banner. They captured some of the migrant trade between the Europe & Australia. This round the world service saw them operating through the Suez & Panama canals with the Willem Ruys generally operated the eastbound service.

1959: March, the extensive refit carried out on the Willem Ruys was completed. Enhancements included air-conditioning, stabilisers and an increased number of cabins, 250 1st class, 850 2nd class. The ship would now sail on round the world cruises taking on average 63 days starting at Rotterdam, then Southampton, Suez Canal, Columbo, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington, Panama Canal, Miami, Southampton & Rotterdam. Five round the world trips per year were timetabled for the Willem Ruys.
1959: March 26th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Apr 4th), Sydney (Apr 7th), Wellington (Apr 11th), Panama (Apr 25th), Miami (Apr 29th), Bermuda (May 1st), Southampton (May 8th) & Rotterdam (May 9th).
1959: Departed Southampton May 17th (?). At Singapore, June 3rd the Willem Ruys was transporting the coffin of the late Sultan of Johore, which would be transferred to a Royal Malaysian Navy vessel after arrival at Singapore. All ships at Singapore were requested to fly their flags at half mast until noon. The Royal funeral would take place on June 6th.
1959: June 3rd at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Jun 13th), Sydney (Jun 16th), Wellington (Jun 20th), Panama (July 4th), Bermuda (July 8th), New York (July 10th), Southampton (July 17th) & Rotterdam (July 18th).
1959: August 28th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Sept 8th), Sydney (Sept 11th), Wellington (Sept 15th), Panama (Sept 29th), Miami (Oct 3rd), Bermuda (Oct 5th), Southampton (Oct 12th) & Rotterdam (Oct 13th).
1959: November 9th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Nov 18th), Sydney (Nov 21st), Wellington (Nov 25th), Panama (Dec 9th), Miami (Dec 13th), Bermuda (Dec 15th), Southampton (Dec 22nd) & Rotterdam (Dec 23rd).


1960: January 5th departed Southampton, at Singapore January 21st for Australia.
1960: February 2nd (timetabled) Sydney to Europe via Panama.
1960: April 3rd at Sydney from Europe for Australia.
1960: June 13th at Singapore from Europe.
1960: June 24th (timetabled) Sydney to Europe via Panama.
1960: August 30th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Sept 8th), Sydney (Sept 11th), Wellington (Sept 14th), Callao (Sept 26th), Panama (Sept 29th), Miami (Oct 3rd), Bermuda (Oct 6th), Southampton (Oct 13th) & Rotterdam (Oct 14th). Whilst on the approach to Singapore on August 30th an English paster seeking medical aid through acupuncture for incurable laryngitis died peacefully whilst resting in a deckchair on the promenade deck of the Willem Ruys.
1960: November 9th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Nov 18th), Sydney (Nov 20th), Wellington (Nov 24th), Callao (Dec 6th), Panama (Dec 9th), Miami (Dec 13th), Southampton (Dec 22nd) & Rotterdam (Dec 23rd).

1961: January 21st at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Jan 31st), Sydney (Feb 2nd/3rd), Wellington (Feb 6th/7th), Callao (Feb 19th), Panama (Feb 22nd/23rd), Miami (Feb 26th/27th), Bermuda (Mar 1st), Southampton (Mar 8th) & Rotterdam (Mar 9th).
1961: April 4th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Apr 13th), Sydney (Apr 15th/16th), Wellington (Apr 19th/20th), Panama (May 3rd/4th), Miami (May 7th/8th), Bermuda (May 10th), Southampton (May 17th) & Rotterdam (May 18th).
1961: June 13th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Jun 22nd), Sydney (Jun 24th/25th), Wellington (Jun 28th/29th), Panama (July 12th/13th), Miami (July 16th/17th), Bermuda (July 19th), Southampton (July 26th) & Rotterdam (July 27th).
1961: August 30th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Sept 8th), Sydney (Sept 10th/11th), Wellington (Sept 14th/15th), Panama (Sept 28th/29th), Miami (Oct 2nd/3rd), Bermuda (Oct 5th), Southampton (Oct 12th) & Rotterdam (Oct 13th).
1961: November 9th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Nov 18th), Sydney (Nov 20th/21st), Wellington (Nov 24th/25th), Panama (Dec 8th/9th), Miami (Dec 12th/13th), Bermuda (Dec 15th), Southampton (Dec 22nd) & Rotterdam (Dec 23rd).

1962: January 21st at Penang from Europe, the Singapore stop would not be made.
1962: April 4th at Penang instead of Singapore. Tension over the West Irian crises saw the Willem Ruys avoid sailing through Indonesian waters to reach Australia. Sailing north of Sumatra and avoiding the Straits of Sunda would avoid Indonesian waters.
1962: June 16th at Penang (the stop at Singapore was omitted), the passengers included Mr. Fletcher John Christian, a great-great-great grandson of the first mate of the infamous HMS Bounty. He was making a world cruise as a guest of the Royal Rotterdam Line, having developed a close friendship with Mr. Theo A.W. Ruys, managing director of Royal Rotterdam.
1962: June 28th departed Sydney for Europe. Ports included Wellington, Suva, Papeete, Honolulu, Valparaiso, Callao, Acapulco, Balboa, Port au Prince, Kingston, Miami, Bermuda, New York, Southampton, Amsterdam & Rotterdam.
1962: November 5th from Singapore to Sydney for Europe via Panama.

1963: January 4th the P&O Liner Canberra caught fire in the Mediterranean. The decision was made to return the vessel to England, leaving P&O to arrange transportation for about 2,000 now displaced passengers headed to Australia. Many travelled onward by air but at least 110 were book passage on the Willem Ruys, presumably embarking at Malta.
1963: January 22nd at Singapore, February 3rd, departed Sydney for the Netherlands via Panama.
1963: April 4th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Apr 14th), Sydney (Apr 17th), Wellington (Apr 21st), Panama (May 5th), Miami (May 9th), Bermuda (May 11th), Southampton (May 18th) & Rotterdam (May 19th).
1963: August 21st at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Aug 30th), Sydney (Sept 2nd), Wellington (Sept 6th), Callao (Sept 18th), Panama (Sept 22nd), Miami (Sept 26th), Bermuda (Sept 28th), New York (Oct 1st), Southampton (Oct 8th) & Rotterdam (Oct 9th).
1963: November 5th at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Nov 14th), Sydney (Nov 17th), Wellington (Nov 21st), Callao (Dec 3rd), Panama (Dec 7th), Port-Au-Prince (Dec 9th), Miami (Dec 12th), Bermuda (Dec 14th), Southampton (Dec 21st) & Rotterdam (Dec 22nd).

During December 1963 negotiations were reported by the Lauro Line for the Willem Ruys and the Oranje for use on a Naples - Australia run, due to commence in 1965. The sale was finalised on January 17th 1964.

1964: January 22 at Singapore, then timetabled for Melbourne (Jan 31st), Sydney (Feb 2nd), Wellington (Feb 6th), Callao (Feb 19th), Panama (Feb 22nd), Port-Au-Prince (Feb 25th), Miami (Feb 27th), Bermuda (Mar 1st), Southampton (Mar 8th) & Rotterdam (Mar 9th).
1964: April 5th at Singapore, then timetabled for Fremantle (Apr 10th), Melbourne (Apr 14th), Sydney (Apr 16th): on arrival at Sydney two stowaways, onboard the ship since Rotterdam were not allowed to disembark until their fares of £360 were paid. They had been granted temporary permission to stay in Australia for one month. The master of the vessel was Captain Herman van den Heuvel; Wellington (April 20th), Panama (May 4th), Miami (May 8th), Bermuda (May 11th), Southampton (May 18th) & Rotterdam (May 19th).
1964: August 21st at Singapore, then timetabled for Fremantle (Aug 26th), Melbourne (Aug 30th), Sydney (Sept 1st), Wellington (Sept 5th), Callao (Sept 18th), Panama (Sept 21st), Miami (Sept 25th), New York (Sept 28th), Bermuda (Oct 1st), Southampton (Oct 8th) & Rotterdam (Oct 9th).
1964: November 5th at Singapore, then timetabled for Fremantle (Nov 10th), Melbourne (Nov 14th), Sydney (SNov 16th), Wellington (Nov 20th), Callao (Dec 3rd), Panama (Dec 6th), Haiti (Dec 9th), Miami (Dec 11th), Bermuda (Dec 14th), Southampton (Dec 21st) & Rotterdam (Dec 22nd).

In January 1965 the ship was sold to the Lauro Line, renamed 'Achille Lauro' after the managing director of the shipping line and was sent away for a refit at the yard of CN Riuniti di Palermo. Whilst being refitted an explosion and fire occurred on August 29th 1965, as a result her recommissioning was delayed. When completed the ship presented a different image, particularly with the new high slim-line funnels topped by rakish smoke dispersers. Additionally much glazing was added to the decks to provide greater protection for the cruise passengers. After refit the ship commenced service on April 13th 1966 to Australia & New Zealand, plying this route until 1973 by which time demand for this service had greatly diminished.

1965: December 9th (timetabled) from Sydney to Europe.

1966: May 9th the ship arrived at Melbourne on her maiden run to Australia under the command of Captain Leopoldo Cafiero. One stowaway who joined the ship in Lebanon looking for his mother in Sydney, jumped overboard and swam ashore and evaded the authorities searching for him. On May 29th on its return voyage the ship arrived at Singapore headed for Europe.

1967: March 28th at Southampton from Sydney for Rotterdam where it would spend four days in dry dock. Passengers included one stowaway from Melbourne who had boarded the ship with a 30 cent visitor's ticket, with the intent to avoid National Service. He slept in public spaces on the ship obtaining food from the onboard deck counters. If acceptance by the British Immigration authorities was rejected, the stowaway would most likely return with the ship to Australia.

1967: June 1st the Suez crisis did not affect the use of the Suez Canal by the Achille Lauro sailing between Australia & England. Other merchants ships on the same run were diverted via the Cape of Good Hope.

1967: September 29th the Achille Lauro hosted a luncheon for the visiting Italian President Saragat.

1969: October 11th Fremantle, three crewman were injured whilst trying to swing out the No.12 lifeboat during an inspection. A fine of $1,000 was imposed on the master due to having unsafe life gear aboard.

Placed into Mediterranean cruise service the 'Achille Lauro' suffered a series of incidents. It was in collision with a cargo ship, the Youssef, the damage inflicted caused the Youssef to sink. In 1981 whilst cruising near the Canary Islands another fire occurred killing two people, requiring more repairs. In 1982 the authorities in Tenerife seized the ship for non-payment of port fees. After several months the ship was able to return to Genoa, but did not immediately return to service.

1972: May whilst undergoing a refit at CN Riuniti di Palermo, Genoa the ship sustained damage from an arson fire.

1972: October 17th the ship suffered industrial action following its arrival at Santa Cruz, Canary Islands whilst en-route from Southampton to Sydney, with at least 1,000 British migrants on board. The ship was still there on October 21st.

1972: November The Flotta Lauro shipping line announced the end of its England - Australia service at the end of 1972, allowing the company to concentrate on its cruise service. The Achille Lauro would provide cruises on the Mediterranean and the Angelina Lauro on the Atlantic & Caribbean. The Achille Lauro was expected to reach Genoa on December 19th from Sydney, thus ending 25 years of service to Australia for this shipping line.

In 1982 - 1983 the ship was leased to the Chandris Lines. Typical of the cruises plied by the Achille Lauro was the eastern Mediterranean circuit which started at Genoa, then to Naples, Syracuse, Alexandria, Port Said, Tartus, Limassol & Rhodes.

On October 7th 1985 whilst on a ten day cruise the ship was seized by five Palestinian terrorists whilst en-route from Alexandria to Port Said, Egypt. At this point very few passengers were on board, 642 had left the ship at Alexandria, for sightseeing in Egypt before rejoining the ship at Port Said. The terrorist action included the murder of one elderly passenger, wheel chair bound Leon Klinghoffer, an American. Mr Klinghoeffer was thrown overboard and the body later recovered from the the Syrian coast and then taken to Rome for an autopsy. The flag draped coffin was flown home to the the USA onboard a Pan American Boeing 747. The US Ambassador to Rome along with embassy officials accompanied the coffin to the plane and stood in silence as it was put aboard the airctaft. The Egyptian & Italian governments negotiated the surrender of the terrorists and their release to Palestine Liberation Organisation representatives. On their flight to Tunis aboard an Egyptian passenger aircraft, American fighter planes intercepted the aircraft and forced it to land at Catania, Sicily. International law gave the Italian authorities the right to bring a murder trial against the recently acquired hostages. However the Italian authorities released the suspects without trial, leading to the collapse of the existing coalition government.


The Achille Lauro as she looked after the 1965/66 refit.

On April 7th 1986 the Achille lauro ran aground on sandbanks about 3.5km from Alexandria, Egypt. Six tugs were used to refloat the vessel after having been stuck for about ten hours.

In 1987 the Lauro Line became reflagged as the Star Lauro line.

1987: January 14th arrived Fremantle, passengers included 382 migrants from South Africa who had boarded the ship at Durban.

1990: January the Achille Lauro completed a $15 million refit and returned to Sydney on January 28th 1990 to complete eight local cruises to Lord Howe Island (3 nights) or Pago Pago (19 nights). After completion of the cruises the ship would return to Southampton.

1992: April 6th - 13th it is reported that dozens of people became sick due to unsanitary conditions on the ship, particularly in the kitchens and food preparation areas. Two following cruises did not see the conditions rectified leading to prosecution of those responsible for the conditions existing.

The Achille Lauro continued as a cruise ship until November 30th 1994 when under the command of Giuseppe Orsi a fire broke out in the engine room (or passenger quarters ?) whilst on a 21 day cruise from Genoa to the Seychelles (or Durban, South Africa). The location was in the Indian Ocean 240 nautical miles south of the Horn of Africa off the coast of Somalia. The fire could not be contained, the order to abandon ship was given at 5am local time with all 1,090 passengers and crew taking to the life boats. The majority of the passengers & crew (927) were rescued by the Panamanian registered tanker Hawaiian King, regretably in the rescue two lives were lost and eight persons were injured. A third passenger would die whilst on one of the rescue ships. Fifty other persons were picked up by the Liberian registered bulk oil carrier Bardu. The survivors were later transferred to other vessels including several merchant ships, the oil tanker Spirit and the US Navy cruiser Gettysburg and the frigate Halyburton. 600 were taken to Mahe in the Seychelles whilst about 150 to Djibouti and the remainder to Mombasa. The fire burned for three days, with the ship taking on an increasing list. Attempts by the crew are reported to have brought the fire under control, but the ship developed an increasing list. The ship finally sank on the evening of December 2nd 1994 at 8.0N, 52.2E.

Length: 631 feet
Beam: 82.3 feet
Gross Weight: 21,119 tons; 23,114 tons after 1959 refit; 23,629 tons after 1966 refit.
Engines: Eight direct-reversing two stroke crosshead diesels - total 27,000 shp (32,500 bhp)
Screws: Twin
Service Speed: 22knots
Passenger Capacity: 344 first, 301 second +3rd/4th; 275 first, 770 second after 1959 refit; 152 first, 1,155 tourist after 1966 refit.
Crew: 400

Advertising placed by the Shell Oil Company at the time of the maiden voyage of the Willem Ruys idicated the company had provided 51,000 gallons of lubricating oil for the ship's eight engines. Philips Lamps also featured on advertising involving the ship.

Page added February 12th 2005
Last updated November 27th 2014

SINGAPORE WILLEM RUYS COMPLETE
SINGAPORE ACHILLE LAURO PAGE 1
TROVE NEXT ACHILLE LAURO - Page 6

Return to Ship menu
Return to Picture menu
Return to Home Page