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Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Veendam (I) of 1889

PREVIOUS NAME: Baltic
As Veendam: TONNAGE, BRT: 4,035 NRT: 2,209 DWT: 3,962
BUILT AT: Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Ireland.
BUILT IN: 1871 YARD NO: 75
ENGINES: Two compound inverted steam engines (in tandem) by Maudslay Sons & Field,
London, England.
ENGINE OUTPUT: 2,300 horsepower. PROPELLORS: One (fixed)
SERVICE SPEED: 15 Knots MAX.SPEED: 16 Knots.
LENGTH OVERALL: 131.22 Meters. LENGTH Between Perpendiculars: 128,01 Meters.
BEAM OVERALL: 12.27 Meters. DEPTH: 10.29 Meters. (maindeck down to keel)
PASSENGER CAPACITY: 90 First class, 52 Second class and 694 Third Class.
CREW: 85
SISTERSHIP: (Republic) later Maasdam (2)
REMARKS: Bunker capacity 956 tons of coal at a consumption of 58 tons a day.
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HISTORY: The ship was constructed of iron and had three full decks. It could be rigged as a four masted barque and during it’s career the sails were indeed used. The hull was launched on 8 March 1871 under the name Pacific. However on delivery on 18 September she was renamed in Baltic for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. This company was better known as the White Star Line. (Upon delivery she measured 3,707 Brt. and could carry 166 First and 1000 Third Class passengers)

baltic-1871-later-veendam-one.JPG

She commenced her maiden voyage on 14 September 1871 sailing from Liverpool to New York. The ship was a very fast one and on 19 January 1873 she won the Blue Riband after a record crossing over the North Atlantic (Eastbound) in a time of 7 Days 15 Hours and 9 Minutes. (Making 15.09 Knots on average). The record was taken over by another ship in September of the same year. After 10 years of service, newer and faster ships were taking over her role as a North Atlantic Greyhound and she became of less importance to her owners. This resulted in the ship being chartered out to the Inman Line. First in April 1883 two charter voyages and then between 1885 and 1887 the ship sailed in permanent charter for this company. At the end of the charter period the ship is laid up at Birkenhead in England on 3 May 1888.

Holland America was at that time looking for new tonnage and as they were not involved in the (speed) battle of the Blue Riband on the North Atlantic, this ship fitted very well in the existing fleet. Thus she was bought on 3 October 1888 by the NASM for £ 32,000 and renamed in Veendam (1)

veendam-one.JPG

She left Rotterdam for her first voyage on 3 November 1888, sailing via Cherbourg to New York. During a refit in 1889 the ship received a new engine at the yard of the Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Installed is one four cylinder triple expansion engine giving 3,300 Ihp. Which gives a speed of 15 knots. Although the speed produced is the same as that of the old engines, the new engines used a lot less coal. 40 tons a day against 58 tons previously a saving of nearly 30%. The passenger accommodation is modified to 80 First class, 90 Second class and 800 Third class. A year later electric light is installed.
On 6 February 1898 the ship hits a submerged wreck while on a North Atlantic crossing. The propeller shaft breaks and the ship takes on water. All passengers and crew are saved by the American passengership St Louis and landed in New York. The ship is set on fire by the crew and sinks on 7 February in position 49.19 N., 019.47 W.

Note: In those days hitting an abandoned and most often partly submerged wreck was not unusual. Woodens ships did not always sink after a mishap and if only burned out, the under water part could survive for a longer time and thus be a considerable danger to navigation. Therefore when a ship was beyond salvage it was considered Good Seamanship to make sure that the ship really sank, by fully burning down the mostly wooden upper parts. This to take away any buoyancy that the wreck might still have. Then the sea valves were opened so that the lower part of the hull sank to the bottom of the ocean. The Veendam herself was involved in a situation like this. A situation of what later caused her own demise. On 25 November 1897 a schooner called The Elite was sighted, dismasted and abandoned and with only one foot of freeboard (amount of hull above the water) visible. As the sailing vessel was abandoned, completely waterlogged and on the North Atlantic steamer track, Captain Dent of the Veendam ordered the Elite to be set on fire as she formed a danger to other ships. During that same voyage the Veendam also landed in New York: 28 First Cabin, 46 Second Cabin and 395 steerage passengers. All of them coming from the Maasdam (1). The Maasdam had developed engine problems 500 miles west of Plymouth heading for New York. With the forward cylinder of the main engine not working she had been forced to return to Plymouth and the passengers were transferred to the Veendam.

5 Comments

  1. Interesting post and photos. Some of my ancestors immigrated to the U.S. on that ship. Thanks for the post!

  2. Robert Johnson

    July 28, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    My great-grandmother, Joha den Braber was on the Veendam I in the above mentioned Nov. 1897 sailing! She was one of the second class passengers.

    Does anyone have any further information on that sailing? Or any pictures of the decks or interiors of this ship? Do any artifacts remain of this ship? Thanks!

  3. Thanks for this great story. Any chance you know what city lies just beyond your broadside photo of the Baltic?

  4. Does anyone know where the name “Veendam” came from? It looks like it was not the original name for the ship.

    I’m doing some work related to Norbertine priests traveling to the states in the late 1890s on that ship, and am curious about the name.

    • Thank you for reading my blog.

      The name veendam comes from the town Veendam located in the North East of the Netherlands in the province of Groningen. The reason for chosen the name is a little bit more circumstantial.
      When Holland America was founded and went public in 1873 there was a major investor from that town who invested enough so they could buy a new ship. They named the ship after him. W.A Scholten. Later on he reduced his shares as the company was not making enough money as far as he was concerned. But because his initial investment was very important for the company to survive they named subsequent ships not after him but after the town he was born in. And we are still doing that……….. Veendam IV is still with the company.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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