The SS Waterman, initially constructed as the enlarged Victory troopship SS La Grande Victory (VC2-S-AP3), holds a notable place in maritime history. Post-World War II, the State of the Netherlands procured three ships from the US War Shipping Administration, and the SS Waterman was one of them. Designed with reinforced hulls for wartime conditions, this vessel, unlike Liberty ships, boasted accommodations that were both ventilated and heated, rendering it suitable for the transportation of approximately 1,600 men.
After a brief period under the American flag with Shepard Steamship Co., the SS Waterman was laid up for sale in 1946. In 1947, the State of the Netherlands acquired the ship and entrusted its management to Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd, deploying it as a troop transport ship to the Dutch East Indies and later to New Guinea, facilitating the return journey for servicemen.
A transformative phase occurred in 1951 when the Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij in Amsterdam converted the ship into an emigrant vessel. This involved adding an extra deck, repositioning and elevating the bridge forward, and adapting accommodations for 831 passengers. The ship’s tonnage increased from 7,606 to 9,177 GRT. In November 1951, it embarked on its maiden voyage to Australia.
Management transitioned to NASM (Holland-America Line) in Rotterdam in 1952. The SS Waterman, now under the flag of the Holland-Africa Line, embarked on voyages to Cape Town, Walvis Bay, and Halifax in 1952.
In a dramatic turn, on March 14, 1957, at 7:17 a.m. ship’s time, the SS Waterman collided with the 7,174-ton Italian ship SS Merit in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
By 1961, the ship was transferred to Scheepvaartmij. Trans-Ocean in The Hague, while the operation continued with NASM. In response to declining emigrant numbers, passenger accommodations were converted into luxury tourist-class facilities. The ship continued transoceanic voyages to Australia and New Zealand. In 1962, it was chartered alongside the Groote Beer for accommodations during the Commonwealth Games in Fremantle, Australia.
In January 1963, the SS Waterman, now known as the Aquarius, embarked on its final voyage to Australia and New Zealand. Later that year, it changed hands, purchased by the Greek family business of John Latsis, and was renamed Margarita. The ship transitioned to voyages in the eastern Mediterranean, transporting pilgrims to Jeddah during the pilgrimage season. However, at the close of 1969, it was sold to Onomichi, Japan, marking the end of its seafaring journey, as it was destined for scrapping. Source Wikipedia
The Janssen Verheul family
The Janssen Verheul family emigrated from Holland July, 1960. We drove by taxi from Amsterdam to Rotterdam to board the ship SS Waterman. Sailing was an adventure for us children; dining three times a day, exploring the ship, and the sea. Heavy seas could have washed us overboard, the crew locked the access after we three unsupervised kids came in. After a week we had to exit the ship at midnight at Halifax, then back on to Montreal. A train took us to Chatham where Rita and Ted Verheul took us in. More info
Linda Rien Devos
Arrived Sydney, Australia May 1960. on the SS Waterman. Mum, Dad and 11 children.