Captain Johan van Dulken This is a 1939 company photo. (a)

Johan van Dulken was born on 09 August 1882 at Rotterdam as the son of Hendrik Pieter van Dulken (of profession Haulier) and Johanna Elizabeth van Os.

It is assumed that he attended the Maritime School in Rotterdam but this can not be verified as no records of this school survived from before 1936.

Upon completion he joins the Holland America Line as Cadet on 01 August 1899 and is placed on board the ss Rotterdam (III) a ship which had just been superseded as the flag ship of the company by the ss Statendam (I) of 1898. While most cadets served on at least 2 ships, Van Dulken remained for the full year assigned to the ss Rotterdam (III).

The ss Rotterdam (III) of 1897. There are only 5 or 6 photos known of the ship but the company also had artists commissioned. This is a painting by Mr. Fred Pansing of New York, who later would design a whole series of company postcards.

After obtaining his 3rd mates license he returns to the company and is placed on board the ss Maasdam one of the older units of the company. He remained on the passenger ships until he made captain in 1912, when in accordance with the company seniority system he was assigned as the youngest captain to the oldest / smallest ship. And indeed he is assigned to the ss Soestdijk (I) which was the first – cargo only – ship built for the company in 1900.

He married on 06 July 1909 in Paris Ida Istace (Born on 06 Dec. 1885 at Brussel) Her father was French Belgium and her mother Dutch but they lived in Paris.

Eventually there were 3 sons:

Robert Jules Pieter Hendrik (Born 02 March 1911 at Rotterdam)

Emile Leopold (Born 23 July 1913 at Rotterdam)

Johan  (Born 27 March at Rotterdam )

The ss IJseldijk of 1916. Built in the Netherlands she wold eventually be transferred to United Steam (VNS)  a new company in which HAL participated. In 1926 she was taken over by the VNS and renamed in IJselkerk. This photo is from the first world war period as the neutral lettering can be seen on the sides so it must have had Captain van Dulken on board.

In 1916 he is assigned to a brand new ship, the ss IJseldijk, named after one of the rivers in the East of the Netherlands. Built in the Netherlands it commenced its maiden voyage on 02 December 1916. In December 1917 she was put on the East Indies Line of the company which ran from New York to the Dutch and British Far East (Singapore etc.) This was a long route service and each HAL officer was sent onto this service eventually which meant being away from home for a year. This was the routine in peace time. However World War 1 was going on and by 1918 hardly any ships still returned to Rotterdam who could have taken Van Dulken on board. As a result he left Rotterdam on 17 March 1917, had a period up of lay up in New York due to the U boat danger on the North Atlantic and was then assigned to the Far East service. He was finally relieved in New York on 21 March 1919 and then sailed home with the Rotterdam (IV). Just over 2 years away.

He then received two months vacation and is then assigned to the next cargo ship. In 1923 and 1924 he is asked to sail as 2nd Captain on board the ss Rotterdam (IV) for the long cruise to the Holy Land from New York. Before that he had made one voyage as captain in November 1923 on the same ship to bridge  the gap between the old Commodore and the new one. Contrary to the North Atlantic service, on cruises the captains were expected to socialize a lot more and hence a “2nd captain” was very useful.

The ss Rotterdam (IV) at anchor in a European port during one of her long cruises.

In between there is a voyage on the Moerdijk (I) from Rotterdam to Vancouver. Holland America had begun this North Pacific service with some ships that had cool and freeze capacity. The service was maintained with a mixture of cargo only ships such as the Moerdijk and cargo ships with an enlarged passenger capacity (up to 100 passengers). In August 1924 he makes one voyage on such a ship the ss Dinteldijk (I).

Then it is back to the passengerships,



Mobilisation Cross Netherlands 1914 – 1918. (Reason unknown)

Gold Medal of Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1923)

Bronze Cross with commendation (08 may 1942) later retracted and upgraded to the Bronze Lion. (Sinking Pennland)

Received the Distinguished Service Cross (British DSC) on 01 august 1943 for the leadership shown during the attack and sinking of the ss Pennland while evacuating troops from Greece and assisting the British Royal Navy.


While in command of the ss Moerdijk (I) he has a collision with the english steamer ss Cito while homebound for Rotterdam (arrival 01 Nov.). The ship sustains several damage on the starboard stern at hatch no 7. The Cito continues to London with damage to the anchor hawse pipe and goes into dry dock.

While in command of the ss Leerdam, bound for Havana)  the ship runs aground on 06 July 1929 on St. George Isle (Sao Jorge) in the Azores. The 150 were taken ashore but later reboarded when it became clear the ship was still sound. It then sailed to Fayal in the Azores . Some tanks were reported leaking and as repairs could not be made in Horta the ship returns to Vigo in Spain. The passengers remain in Horta and are then picked up by the ss Spaarndam on July 16. The ss Leerdam is subsequently found to be in good enough condition to sail to Rotterdam (arrival 18 July)



In 1946 he is part of a group of people who created Nevas (Netherlands Society for the adoption of ships) with the idea that schools in The Netherlands should adopt a Dutch merchant ship and in that way create and keep interest in the Dutch Mercantile Marine. (The NEVAS was active until at least 1972) He was appointed Vice chairman and shortly after Chairman. This then takes up all his free time in retirement. For the many years of hard work in promoting the Dutch Merchant Ships and companies  he is awarded the “De Ruyter Medal” on the 22nd of March 1952 . Which is the highest honour in the Dutch Shipping Industry.



Passed away on 03 September 1972 in the town of De Bilt in the central Netherlands. He was survived by his wif, his three children, grand children and great grand children.

Timeline: (d)

Date:                    Function:                            Ship:                                    Wages and/or remarks.

01 Aug. 1899      Cadet                                  Rotterdam                         10,–

22 Mar. 1900      Act. 4th. officer              Maasdam                            15,–

24 Aug. 1900      Temporary dismissed to go to school for 3rd mates license. Passed on 16 oct. 1900

26 Oct. 1900      4th. officer                          Maasdam                           30,–

08 Jan.  1901      4th. officer                          Rotterdam                         30,–

01 Jan. 1902      Appointed Ensign extraordinary Royal Dutch Navy Reserve.

03 Jan. 1902       Temporary dismissed for royal Navy Reserve service.

08 Apr.  1902      3rd. officer                          Noordam                            50,–

16 Jan.  1903      3rd. officer                          Statendam                         50,–

24 Jan.  1903      3rd. officer                          Noordam                            50,–

11 Apr.  1903      3rd. officer                          Rijndam                              50,–

15 Dec. 1903      Temporary dismissed to go the exam for 2nd officer  Passed 20 Dec. 1903

22 Dec. 1903      2nd officer                            Soestdijk                             70,–

06 Apr.  1904      Act. 2nd Officer                  Amsteldijk                        60,–

04 Jul.    1904      Act. 2nd officer                  Soestdijk                             60,–

26 Mar. 1905      Act 2nd officer Jr.              Potsdam                             60,–

23 Dec. 1905      Temporary dismissed for Royal Navy Reserve and first mates ticket study passed 14 nov.1906

11 Jan. 1906       Stationed as Ensign first class on board HM Gier.

24 Nov. 1906      2nd officer Sr.                     Rijndam                              70,–

04 Jan. 1908      Temporary dismissed due to illness

02 Mar. 1908      2nd officer                           Nieuw Amsterdam      70,–

22 Dec. 1908      2nd Offcier                          Rijndam                              70,–

10 aAr.  1909      2nd officer                           Statendam                         70,–

26 Apr.  1909      Chief Officer                      Noordam                            100,–

21 Sep. 1910      Temporary dismissed for the royal navy reserve for a 3 month exercise.

01 Jan. 1911      due to wage review                                                         175,–

09 Jan. 1911      Chief Officer                      Rotterdam                         175,–

06 Feb. 1911      Chief Officer                      Noordam                            175,–

18 Aug. 1911      Wage increase                                                                   190,–

22 Mar. 1911      Temporary dismissed awaiting assignment to the ss Soestdijk

02 Apr. 1912      promoted to captain                                                      250,–

02 Apr.  1912      Captain                               Soestdijk                             250,-

23 Oct. 1912      Temporary dismissed. Assigned to ss Zuiderdijk

31 Oct. 1912       Captain                           Zuiderdijk                            250,–

16 Jul.    1914      Temporary ashore

17 Aug. 1914      Captain                               Gorredijk                            250,-

29 Oct. 1914      Captain                               Zijldijk                                  250,–

01 Jan. 1916      Wage increase                                                                  275,–

06 Jul.    1916      Captain                               Amsteldijk                          275,–

24 Oct. 1916       Temporary ashore

14 Nov. 1916      Captain                               Ijseldijk                                275,–

01 Aug.  1918      Wage increase                                                               325,–

21 Mar. 1919      Temporary ashore arrived home with the ss Rotterdam

26 Jun. 1919      Captain                             Maartensdijk                     325,–

01 Jul.    1919      wage increased                                                              675,–

05 Jul.     1919      Temporary ashore

25 Aug. 1919      Captain                               Gorredijk                         675,–

01 Jan. 1920      Wage increased                                                             700,–

15 Oct. 1920      Wage increase                                                               725,–

08 Oct. 1921      Captain                               Blijdendijk                      725,–    with the Harwich boat to Belfast

16 Oct. 1921      Wage decreased                                                            660,–

16 Mar. 1922      Wage decreased                                                            635,–

22 Apr.  1922      Temporary ashore

21 Jun.  1922      Captain                               Blijdendijk                           635,–

11 Dec. 1922      Temporary ashore

05 Jan.  1923      2nd captain                         Rotterdam                      635,–

29 Feb. 1923       Receives the gold medal of the Royal Dutch Meteorological society.

20 Apr.  1923      Temporary ashore

07 Jul.    1923      Captain                               Moerdijk                            635,–

15 Nov. 1923      Captain                               Rotterdam                        635,–

02 Jan.  1924      2nd captain                         Rotterdam                      635,–

29 Mar. 1924      Captain                               Edam                                   635,–    Returns from Naples

24 May.1924      Temporary ashore in hospital in Havana.

03 Jul.    1924      Returns home with the ss Leerdam and temporary ashore

13 Aug. 1924      Captain                               Dinteldijk                         635,-

11 Dec/ 1924      Captain                               Rotterdam                      635.–

05 Apr. 1925       ashore

01 May 1925      Captain                               Maasdam                           635,–

10 Jan.  1926      2nd captain                         Rotterdam                      635,–

08 Apr. 1926      Temporary ashore

10 May 1926       Captain                               Leerdam                           635,–

01 Jan.  1927      Wage increased                                                             655,–

18 Jul. 1929         Suspended for six months due to stranding

17 Jan. 1929      Captain                               Sommelsdijk                      675,–

01 Jan. 1930       Wage increased to                                                        695,–

18 May 1930      Temporary ashore due the sale of his ship     695,-

30 May  1930      Captain                               Nieuw Amsterdam      695,–

05 Nov. 1931      Temporary ashore                                                         695,–

12 Nov. 1931      Wage decreased to 70% and put on standby money            556,–

04 Jan. 1932      Captain                               Veendam                            556,–

08 May  1932      Captain                              Rotterdam                         556,–

15 Sep. 1932       Captain                              Rotterdam on 70%       556,–

19 Oct. 1932      Captain                               Statendam                         556,–

19 Nov. 1932      Temporary ashore 70%                                              556,–

12 Dec. 1932      Captain                              Drechtdijk                          556,–

10 Apr.  1933      Captain                               Bilderdijk                            556,–

16 May.1933      Captain                               Rotterdam                         556,–

28 Jun.  1933      Wage decreased with 5% in accordance with circulaire no 929 dated 27 June 1933

02 Jul. 1933         Captain                               Ashore                                 556,–

10 Jul 1933          Captain                               Statendam                          556,–

04 Aug. 1933      Temporary shore                                                             556,–

14 Aug. 1933      Captain                               Rotterdam                         556,–

03 Oct.  1933      Temporary shore                                                           556,–               Regular leave

01 Nov.  1933      Captain                               Rotterdam                         556,–

28 Dec.                1933      Wage decreased with 5% in accordance with circulaire no 929 dated 27 June 1933

01 Oct. 1934      Wage decreased                                                            480,50

Starting 18 Jan. 1936 suspended for one month by the “Raad voor de Scheepvaart” (Maritime Board of Inquiry) due to stranding of the ss Rotterdam on one of the Morant Cays on 30 Sept. 1935.

18 Jan.  1936      Wage reduced to                                            415,– a per cirulaire from accounting date 28 Jan. 1936

29 Jan. 1936       Temporary ashore                                          415,–

18 Feb. 1936      Captain                               Burgerdijk            415,–

01 Oct. 1937      According to new arrangement                430,-

End of available archives. The company went to a different administrative system in 1937 and those records are under lock with the Merchant Navy pension fund. (e)

From the Movement books:

Burgerdijk until 27 November 1938

xx May.1938  Captain                               Pennland  until   25 April 1941 (ship sunk by enemy action)

Sails home on the US transporter ss Evangeline

14 Oct . 1941  Captain                             Noordam  until 25 July 1943 Disembarked in San Francisco due having reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 in 1942.

Wages as of 01 Jan. 1943  fl 635,–

01 Oct. 1943  Nautical Inspector at Hoboken.

01 Jan. 1944   Placed in the 2nd reserve.


(a) Photos from authors collection. If the original source is known, then this mentioned under the photo.


(d) Stamboek from the HR records of the HAL archives as held by the Municipal Archives of the City of Rotterdam.

(e) Movement books from the Directors Archive of the HAL archives as held by the Municipal Archives o the City of Rotterdam.

Last updated: 18 October 2021