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Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

Jong de, Sievert Jans.

Captain Sievert Jans de Jong. In 1924 or 1925. (a)

Jong de; Sieverts Jans

Born: 23 Nov. 1873 at Den Helder

Obtained 3rd Mate’s certificate on 21 Feb. 1893.

Joined the Holland America Line as 4th. Officer  on 05 may 1893.

He was born as the youngest of three children. His father was Hillebrand Sievert de Jong who died in the winter of 1875 while in command of the 3 mast Barque “Noord Holland” enroute to Halifax. He must have been a long standing captain as he was mentioned as being a captain of the barque Nederland & Oranje in 1851.

For Sieverts Jr. things became even more tragic as his mother died 10 days after she received the news of her husband having perished in the North Atlantic. At the age of three he was then placed in an orphanage in Den Helder.

At the age of 11, he was released from the orphanage and taken on as sailor O.S. (O.S = Ordinary Sailor or new sailor) on board a three mast Barque called the “Libra”. This was a ship was registered in the North Netherlands with as home port Nieuwediep and newspapers quote the Captains name as C.Krijnen. Based on newspaper listings the ship was employed on a regular service to Russia and other Baltic States. He was shipwrecked with this ship and while many of the crewmembers lost their lives, he survived being saved by a local farmer and his wife who found him, nearly frozen to death, on the beach.

It does not seem to have diminished his interest in the sea as family records indicate that the continued sailing on “houtslepers” specialized ships which carried wood from the Baltic States to Western Europe. These were sailing in what is called the “short or coastal trade”, and companies from the Northern Provinces of Groningen and Friesland specialized in this.

By 1890, when he was 17, Family records indicate that the joined the Holland America Line as cadet.

Here we have a challenge as the company records only records the day he joined as 4th. Officer, 21 Feb. 1893. For all other officers during that period, the books do indicate if they joined as a cadet officer or directly as a regular officer.

Editor: This needs further investigation because he must have been a cadet officer somewhere and gone to school somewhere and paid for is schooling somehow. Hopefully I can find something in the yearbooks of the maritime academies. For the time being my guess is that he went to Amsterdam as the “Kweekschool” they had a support program (Vaderlandsch Fonds) to encourage young men who had fallen orphan from sea going fathers to go to sea and the school elders paid for their complete education. Once done you normally returned to your Alma Ater for obtaining their next ranks. Added to that, he is at school in 1902 and 1903/1904 for his 2nd and first mate license and that coincides quite nicely with getting married and getting babies.

He marries Theodora Wilhelmina Bisschop (born 17 Feb. 1877 in Dordrecht) in Amsterdam on 22 January 1903. ( Amsterdam Cicilian archives: Aktenummer:Reg.2 fol. 46v, Registr.datum:22-01-1903). Which union resulted in three children, a boy Jan (1904), followed by a girl Dora (1907) and the last one a boy again, Willem ( 15 aug. 1909)

This brings us then back to the career of Captain Sieverts De Jong. Not long after his marriage he was made Chief Officer and mainly sailed on the passenger ships until he was promoted to Captain in 1909. Just before he was with Captain Bonjer in Belfast to collect the new flagship the ss Rotterdam (IV) in 1908. This indicates he was the Sr. Chief Officer by now and indeed promotion came in 1909. As was tradition at the company, he now had to start on the smallest ship again, being the youngest captain, and work his way up gaining senority or the bigger ships.

Captains inspection rounds. Looking at the Lifeboats and deck housing it looks like it is the Volendam (I) (b)

He still divided time between Holland America and his position in the Dutch Royal Navy reserve and also did a spell as Super Intendent in New York. This function basically entailed running the practical side of the operation at the Holland America Line docks. Around this time the company preferred to use very senior shore people for that function or Captains. The captains on the ships in those days were notoriously bad in taking orders from landlubbers, so seniority was essential and if not available then a colleague was acceptable as well.

From the family archives comes a snippet of interest relating to the captain’s hobby, oil paintings and he was quite good at it as the samples below will show.

But the next thing of interest is the saving of the Dutch Steamer Mecklenburg. Although the Netherlands were neutral during the First World War, it did not stop the ships hitting mines or getting torpedoed on occasion, “by mistake”. The Holland America Line itself lost several ships that way. The ss Mecklenburg was a ferry sailing for the Stoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland on the service Tilbury to Flushing. She was 7 years old at the time and measured about 3000 tons which was a respectable size in the early 1900’s. On the 27th. of February, while sailing from Tilbury towards Flushing she hit a mine laid by the German Submarine UC -7 around 11 am. in the morning. (This submarine sunk seven months later by hitting a mine itself) The Westerdyk with Captain Sieverts de Jong in command had just left Rotterdam that day to commence voyage 21 and was sailing towards the Downs for the compulsory inspection by the British Authorities; before being allowed to continue the voyage to the North East Coast ports of the USA. To get there the ship followed a course following a mine free route which brought it near Galloper Light ship east of the estuary of the Thames.

Temporary postcard showing the ferry ss Mecklenburg during a call at the English port of Folkestone.

Five steamships of which three were Dutch (Westerdyk, Samarinda, Prins der Nederlanden) came to the rescue and in the two hours before the ship sunk, they managed to get all the passengers, crew and mail off the ship. The Westerdyk took all 46 passengers on board and 19 crew (including Captain Redeker of the ship). Also on board was the saved Mail. The Samarinda collected the other 12 crew. Both ships continued to the nearby Downs and went to anchor there. Here everybody was transferred to the Dutch Passenger steamer Tubantia which took them from the Downs to Amsterdam. The crew arrived on March 2nd. back in Flushing. The Westerdyk remained at the Downs until the 29th of Feb. and after being released by the British authorities continued her voyage to the USA.

As was tradition in the company, Captains received medals if they achieved a number of crossings. Because he had been so long on the Westerdyk during war time it took until 1926 before he clocked up 100 Trans Atlantic voyages.  Owner of the medal unknown, photo courtesy Mr. Wim Barten.

Captain De Jong remained with the ss Westerdyk until the ship went into precautionary lay up (due to the unlimited German submarine war) in New York on 30 June 1917. On 21 March 1918 the ship was seized by the Americans and then Captain and crew returned to Holland with the ss Nieuw Amsterdam. On the 25th. of September 1919 the ship is released by the Americans. It is assumed (subject to verification) that the Americans delivered the Westerdyk to Rotterdam as Capt. De Jong was  reassigned to the ship on Oct. 06 and left 5 days later on the next voyage from Rotterdam.

Captain De Jong on board the ss Nieuw Amsterdam I. He is in the center. The officer to the right is the Staff Captain. This depicts a group of Dutch people from island of Schiermonnikoog emigrating to North America.  (c)

The slow climb to the more and more senior ships continued until he is assigned to the Nieuw Amsterdam (I) in 1925. Except for two fill in’s on the Volendam (I) this was to be his ship until his retirement in 1929.

The ss Nieuw Amsterdam (I) was engaged on the express service to New York, together with the ss Rotterdam (IV). The ships called at Rotterdam, Boulogne Sur Mer, Southampton and New York with the Nieuw Amsterdam also making regular calls at Halifax with Canadian emigrants.

Painting by Captain Sievert Jans de Jong depicting the Zeppelin above the North Atlantic. (d)

On a return voyage from New York (departure date 13 October 1926) voyage 162, all on board saw the new airship Graf Zeppelin coming over 170 miles east of Cape Hatteras (35°50’ North 71°20’ West,), at 06.20 am in the morning which was on its maiden crossing of the North Atlantic.

It would land two days later in New Jersey. Capt. De Jong documented the experience with an oil painting.

Although the ss Nieuw Amsterdam (I) ran the express service in tandem with the ss Rotterdam (IV) she occasionally called at Halifax when the emigrant trade gave reason to do so. The below photos depicts such a call. the ship docked then at pier 21, which is still there and now in use as the town’s cruise terminal. It also houses the Canadian immigrant museum and has records of everybody who entered Canada via this port. Unfortunately it does not have any information about those who sailed the ships.

Captain de Jong on board the Nieuw Amsterdam I voyage 178 at Halifax on 8 march 1928, where he received a walking cane with gold handle. Occasion was the the NA being the first ship to dock at the new pier 21. the walking cane was inscribed accordingly.  (4). Photo copied from a contemporary newspaper article.

Captain Sievert de Jong retired at the age of 55 which was the regular retirement age for Holland America Captains. It only much later that the retirement age was raised to 60 years.  He  spend his retirement days in the town of Voorschoten located between the larger cities of The Hague and Leiden in the west of the Netherlands.  As with all Dutch people his life received quite a shock when Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 and had to suffer the indignity of having to have an German Officer (Uber Leutnant) quartered at his place. It is easy to imagine that there was some friction when there are two “commanding officers” in one house.  Four years later  on 22 January 1944 our Captain passed away and was buried at the Rhijnhof (1) cemetery in Leiden.  (Municipal archive Wassenaar in Voorschoten (Netherlands), Civil registration deaths, Voorschoten overlijden 1941-1950. Voorschoten, Voorschoten, archive 731A, inventory number 34, 1840, record number 5)

Source information:

  1. Family background provided by Mr. Adam de Jong, Son of Willem, the 3rd child of Captain de Jong. (As a side note: Mr. Willem de Jong married a lady called Nelleke Jocker who was the youngest daughter of Mr. Jocker Chief Accountant of the Holland America Line.)
  2. NRC newspaper 1916.
  3. Hal Archives, Stamboeken with captains careers and sailing periods
  4. A coincidental point here is that Capt. de Jongs father, Captain H.S de Jong, received a similar walking stick or cane from the port of Halifax when he called there with his ship the Noord Holland in 1873. Information also provided by Mr. Adam de Jong.
  5.  Laurens van der Laan. HAL historicus

Photo credits:  a,b,c,d, Mr. Adam de Jong Grand son of Captain de Jong. His father was the youngest son Willem, born in 1909 and who emigrated to South Africa.

Holland America Career:

The following is information found in the personnel records “Stamboek” of the company, as held in the Holland America Archives, stored at the Municipal Archives of the City of Rotterdam.

Obtained on 21 Febr. 1893 passed for 3rd mates certificate

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

05 May 1893       4th Officer                            Dubbeldam                        30,–

30 Nov 1893       Act. 3rd officer                   Dubbeldam                        40,–

15 Feb. 1894       4th Officer                            Maasdam                            30,–

18 Nov. 1894       3rd officer                            Maasdam                            50,–

13 Mar. 1895       Temporary dismissed to join the Royal navy reserve.

01 Jul.    1895       Temporary dismissed to go to school for study for 2nd mates license. Passed on 15/11/1895

18 Nov. 1895       Act. 2nd officer                   P. Caland                             60,–

09 May 1896       3rd officer                            Obdam                                 50,–

05 Apr.  1897      Act. 2nd officer                   P. Caland                             60,–

05 Jun.  1897      Act. 2nd officer                   Schiedam                            60,–

19 Aug. 1897       Act. 2nd officer                   Edam                                     60,–

29 Nov. 1897     Temporary dismissed to join the royal navy reserve

15 Aug. 1898      3rd officer                            Statendam                          50,–

04 Jan.  1899     Act. 2nd officer                   Amsterdam                        70,–

06 Feb. 1900      2nd officer                            Spaarnedam                      70,–

30 Dec. 1900     Temporary dismissed to join the royal navy reserve

12 Jan. 1901       placed for 3 months on board armored ship Kortenaer.

10 Aug. 1901       2nd officer                            Soestdijk                             70,–       (serving as 3rd.)

26 Apr. 1902       Act. chief officer                 Amsteldijk                          90,–

19 Jul.  902        Temporary dismissed to go to school for first mates license.

14 Nov. 1902      Sr. 2nd officer                      Rijndam                               70,–

19 Dec. 1902       Sr. 2nd officer                      Potsdam                              70,–

27 Jan. 1903       Sr. 2nd officer                      Rijndam                               70,–

05 Dec.1903       Temporary dismissed to go to school for first mates license. Passed on 17 Feb. 1904

19 Feb. 1904       Sr. 2nd officer                      Noordam                             70,–

01 Mar. 1904      Commissioned as lieutenant 2nd class RNR.

08 Apr. 1904      Temporary dismissed for Navy reserve.

09 Apr. 1904     Placed for 3 months on board HMS Evertsen at Willemsoord.

11 Oct. 1904       Act. Chief Officer             Amsterdam                        90,–

17 Apr.  1905     Chief Officer                      Amsteldijk                          100,–

01 Aug. 1906     Chief Officer                      Statendam                          100,–

16 Jan. 1907      Chief Officer                      Potsdam                              100,–

10 Jan. 1908     Chief Officer                      Noordam                             100,–

14 May 1908     Chief Officer                      Rotterdam                          100,–    at Belfast

08 Nov. 1908    Temporary dismissed for the Royal Navy reserve.

02 Mar. 1909    Chief Officer                      Rijndam                               100,–

09 Apr.  1909    Captain                                 Gorredijk                             200,–

18 Mar. 1910      2nd captain                           Statendam                          200,–    voyage to Palestine

29 Apr.  1910     Captain                                 Gorredijk                             200,–

01 Jan. 1911       Due to wage review                                                          250,–

24 Mar. 1911      Captain                                 Zaandjk                               250,–

21 Jun.  1911      Captain                                 Gorredijk                             250,–

Starting on 5 March 1912 relieved from the command of the steamship Gorredijk and temporary placed ashore in Rotterdam awaiting for this assignment. To leave on 30 March 1912 with the steamship Rijndam for New York, where on our request relieves the dock super intendent  Mr. Willem K Toutlemonde who is leaving the company on own request. (Retirement)

30 May 1912       Per ss Rijndam to New York

08 Jan. 1913        Per ss Potsdam back from New York.

16 Apr.  1913       To West Hartlepool to collect the ss Oosterdijk

16 Apr.  1913       Captain                                 Oosterdijk                       250,–

30 Jan. 1914       Temporary ashore, waiting for departure to Cadiz to sign on the ss Rotterdam as asst. captain

07 Feb.1914       Asst captain                        Rotterdam                          250—

30 Mar. 1914      Temporary ashore

11 Apr.  1914       to New York with the Potsdam, to work as dock superintendant in NY

23 Jun.  1914      Returned per ss Rijndam

06 Jul.    1914    Captain                                 Westerdijk                          250,–

26 Nov. 1915       Temporary ashore due to an eye illness

04 Dec.1915       Captain                                 Noordam                             250,–

01 Jan. 1916        Wage increase to                                                             300,–

10 Jan. 1916       Captain                                 Westerdijk                          300,–

13 Apr. 1916       Temporary ashore

24 May 1916       Captain                                 Westerdijk                          300,–

Due to the confiscation of the ss Westerdijk, returned with the ss Nieuw Amsterdam to Rotterdam,

12 Apr. 1918       Temporary ashore and waiting for assignment

01 Aug. 1918       wages increased to                                                            350,–

06 Oct.  1919       Captain                                 Westerdijk                          700,–

01 Jan.  1920       Captain                                 Westerdijk                          725,–

15 Oct.  1920       Captain                                 Westerdijk                          750,–

06 Jan. 1921       Temporary ashore

08 Feb. 1921       Captain                                 Stadsdijk                              750,–

06 Apr.  1921       Temporary ashore

24 Apr.  1921       Captain                                 Westerdijk                          750,–

04 Jul. 1921         Temporary ashore

01 Aug. 1921       Captain                                 Maasdam                            750,–

03 Aug. 1922       Temporary ashore

04 Sep. 1922       Captain                                 Noordam                             660,–

07 Mar. 1923       Temporary ashore

29 May 1923       Captain                                 Rijndam                               660,–

11 Sep. 1922       retro wage adjustment                                                       685,–

02 Jan.  1924       Captain                                 Veendam                            660,–

23 Mar. 1924       Captain                                 Volendam                           685,–

19 Jan. 1925       Captain                                 Nieuw Amsterdam              685,–

20 Feb.1925        Captain                                 Volendam                             685,–

16 Oct. 1925       Temporary ashore                                                             685,–

23 Oct. 1925       Captain                                 Nieuw Amsterdam           685,-

01 Apr.  1927       Captain                                 Nieuw Amsterdam          705,–    wage increase

18 Nov. 1927       Captain                                 Volendam                           705,–

19 Dec. 1927       Captain                                 Nieuw Amsterdam          705,–

07 Dec. 1928       Captain                                 Ashore                                 705,–

01 Jan. 1929       Retirement.



  1. Robbert Ringersma

    June 1, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    Good day!

    I’m a grand grand son of Sievert de Jong, very much interested in the history of him at HAL. If you hold medals, photo’s or any other historical material or relics, I’d really like to know, possibly get to see them and/or obtain them for fee.

    Thank you !

    • Captain Albert

      June 2, 2022 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you for your comment.

      All the personal pictures I have of Captain Sievert de Jong are from the family and submitted by Mr. Adam de Jong. As you can see all the way at the end of the biography.

      If you are interested, I can check if Mr. Adam de Jong is still around (my last contact was in 2018) and ask him if he is willing to let me pass on his email address.

      Please advise

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  2. Thank you for the history lesson. My grandfather was an ensign on the Westerdyk in 1917-18 while it was in the U.S. “Overseas Transport Service. He said they transported horses to Europe during WWI. There is a photo of the Westerdyk loading cotton at a New Orleans wharf. The picture is at Louisianadigitallibrary.org/island pea/object/hnoc-clf%3A1903

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