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

Visser, Barend Cornelis.

Captain Barend Visser. This photo is from around 1949. (a)

Visser; Barend Cornelis

Born:  Hoorn; 11 Feb. 1891 as a son of a local green grocer.

Studied at the Kweekschool voor de Zeevaart in Amsterdam.

Joined the Holland America Line as cadet in 1909

Married to Adriana Maria Visser – Zuidweg. They lived in Hoorn (in 1940 at Kleine Oost 1 Hoorn).

There were no children.

During the war his wife was supported by a monthly allotment of fl 400,–


The Dutch Cross of Merit with bars. This was quite unusual as the Dutch Government seldom handed out the double version. So his wartime duties must have really been appreciated (b)


  1. Kruis van Verdienste 1942, Dutch Cross of Merit for service in 1941 – 1942 in the Java Zee
  2. Kruis van Verdienste, 2nd time 16 Jan. 1946 Dutch Cross of Merit with Bar for General service in the Mediterannean 1940 – 1946
  3. Atlantic War Zone Bar
  4. Pacific War Zone Bar
  5. Gold Medal KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorological Society) Jan. 1954


And I here I have a big challenge. I do not know anything about the captains life and career. Looking at the sailing list below he had a great and steady career and captained the ss Nieuw Amsterdam for three years before his retirement. He was not the most Sr. Captain of the company but he was given command of the flagship as the Commodore (Captain Dobbinga Sr.) preferred to stay on the ms Noordam (a much smaller ship) until his retirement in 1955.

And that retirement gives questions. He retired in 1956 (- 1891) means he was 65 years old while the mandatory retirement age was 60. So he stayed longer. Why was this allowed?

While I am still digging for information, I can only upload some photos which have been made available by his niece  Mrs. Jacqueline Visser, for which my great appreciation.

As Student at the Kweekschool voor de Zeevaart in Amsterdam in 1908. (b)

As Chief Officer on board. I think that this was on one of the D ships shortly before his promotion. (b)














Here we have a little anecdote: Captain Visser left Rotterdam with the ss Blommersdijk (II) on 27 April only a few days before the invasion. On board a cargo of gold from the Dutch Government destined for New York where the ship arrived on 12 May via the ports of Antwerp and Dunkirque (30 April – 12 May for clearance by the French Authorities) .

As the Netherlands capitulated all Dutch ships were handed over to various managing authorities to become part of the war effort. Captain Visser and his ship ended up in charter / management for the British Ministry of War Transport.   The Blommersdijk became part of the New York – Liverpool shuttle on which she was employed for the first year of the war.

During one of the stays in Liverpool, an ammunition train stationed quite close to the ship caught fire during one of the frequent bombardments by the Germans. Together with a few Longshoremen the Captain managed to disconnect and pull away the burning waggons before they would go up in the air. (and the Blommersdijk with them) (c)


Near the end of just after the war. At this time the company had all captains under go a photo shoot for their records. (b)

10 Jan. 1954 Receiving in the Gold Medal for meteorological observations from HRH Prins Bernhard of the Netherlands.














After retirement. The captain lived all his life in Hoorn.(b)

Most captains who had families lived in regular houses built during periods of the baby booms in the 1930’s and 1950’s. Captain Visser had the privilege of living in an really old Dutch House.











He passed away on 27 Aug. 1980 at the age of 89 years.













(a) Holland America Line Archives.

(b) Mrs. Jacqueline Visser.

(c) In the War At Sea, by Wiliam C. Seabrook (1947)

Sailing Career:

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

16 Aug. 1909       Cadet                                    Noordam                                  10,–

20 Aug. 1910       Temporary dismissed to go to school for 3rd mates license. Passed on 23 Nov. 1910

19 Dec. 1910       4th. Officer                         Potsdam                                   30,–

05 Aug. 1911       4th. Officer                           Nieuw Amsterdam          30,–

05 Jan. 1912        4th. Officer                           Nieuw Amsterdam          40,–

09 Aug. 1912       4th. Officer                           Nieuw Amsterdam          50,–

13 Oct. 1912        4th. Officer                           Sloterdijk                              60,–

22 Mar. 1913      3rd. Officer                          Rijndam                                   70,–

05 Dec. 1913       3rd Officer                            Rijndam                                  75,–

02 Feb.  1914      3rd. Officer                          Nieuw Amsterdam           75,–

13 Mar. 1914      3rd. Officer                          Nieuw Amsterdam            90,–

18 Apr. 1914       Temporary dismissed for study for 2nd mates license Passed on 10 July 1914

22 Jul. 1914         2nd Officer                           Zaandijk                               100,–

22 Oct. 1914        2nd Officer                           Amsteldijk                          110,–

19 Mar. 1915      2nd Officer                           Amsteldijk                          115,–

07 May. 1915      Temporary dismissed due to Illness.

14 May. 1915      2nd Officer                           Noorderdijk                       110,–

01 Nov. 1915      2nd Officer                           Noorderdijk                       120,–

03 Feb. 1916       2nd Officer                           Noorderdijk                       125,–

10 jun. 1916        Temporary dismissed for military land service

06 Feb. 1918       passed for first mates license

19 Nov. 1918      2nd Officer                           Rotterdam                          130,–    ashore administrative

25 Mar. 1919      2nd officer                          Rotterdam                          130,–    ashore  administrative

26 Jun. 1919        2nd Officer                           Maartensdijk                     130,–

01 Jul. 1919         2nd Officer                           Maartensdijk                     215,–

25 Sep. 1919       2nd Officer                           Noordam                             215,–

22 Mar. 1920      2nd Officer                           Nieuw Amsterdam        215,–

07 May. 1920      Act. Chief Officer             Amsteldijk                         290,–

07 May. 1920      Chief Officer                      Amsteldijk                          320,–

01 Jan. 1920        wage                                                                                         320,–

01 Sep. 1921       wage decrease                                                                 304,–

16 Oct. 1921        wage decrease                                                                 288,–

31 Jan. 1922        Chief Officer                      Dinteldijk                             288,–    At Glasgow,

17 Jul. 1922         wage decrease                                                                 285,–

07 May. 1923      Wage increase                                                                  290,–

03 Oct. 1923        Temporary ashore.

30 Oct. 1923       Chief Officer                      Stadsdijk                            290,–

15 Nov. 1923       Temp. Ashore                                                                      290,–

10 Dec. 1923       Chief Officer                      Blijdendijk                           290,–

26 Jan. 1924        Chief Officer                      Leerdam                              290,–

18 jun. 1925        Ashore                                                                                      290,–

13 Jul. 1925         Chief Officer                      Westerdijk                          290,–

14 Sept. 1925     Chief Officer                      Kinderdijk                           290,–

7 May. 1926        wage increase                                                                        295,–

24 Oct. 1926        Chief Officer                      Edam                                     295,–

01 Aug. 1927       Chief Officer                      Edam                                     305,–    wage increase

10 Jun. 1928        Chief Officer                      Ashore                                 305,–

08 Jul. 1928         Chief Officer                      Maasdam                            305,–

28 Aug. 1928       Ashore                                                                                     315,–

01 Jan. 1929        Chief Officer                      Maasdam                            315,–

13 Nov. 1929      Chief Officer                      Nieuw Amsterdam          315,–

01 Jan. 1930        Chief Officer                      Nieuw Amsterdam         325,–

07 Feb. 1931       Chief Officer                      Ashore                                 325,–

23 Mar. 1931      Chief Officer                      Binnendijk                          325,–

19 Apr.  1933       Chief Officer                      ashore                                  262,50

22 Apr.  1933       Temporary ashore                                           70%        262,50

05 May.1933       Chief Officer                      Drechtdijk                           262,50

28 Jun.  1933       Wage reduced with 5% according to circulaire No 929 date 27 june 1933

28 Dec.                 1933       Wage reduced with 5% according to circulaire No 929 date 27 june 1933

20 Apr.  1934       Temporary ashore                                                           236,50

22 Apr.  1934       Temporary ashore                                           70%        236,50

04 May.1934       Chief Officer                      Dinteldijk                             236.50

01 Oct. 1934       Wage reduced to                                                                226,75

23 Aug. 1935       Temporary ashore                                                           226,75   regular leave

08 Sep. 1935       Chief Officer                      Dinteldijk                             226,75

12 May.1935       Temporary ashore                                                           226,75   regular leave

09 jun.  1937       chief Officer                       Volendam                           226,75

01 Oct. 1937       According to new regulation                                       255,35

21 Nov. 1937      Temporary ashore                                                           225,35   regular leave

10 Dec. 1937       Chief Officer                      Blommersdijk                    255,25

13 Dec. 1937       Act. Captain                        Blommersdijk                    390,–

15 Sep. 1939       Captain                                 Sommelsdijk

15 Feb. 1940       Captain                                 Blommersdijk

05 April – 26 April regular vacation.

26 Apr. 1941       Captain                                 Sommelsdijk

25 Sep. 1941       Temporary placed as shore

18 Dec.1941        Captain                                 Edam

14 Sep.1942        Captain                                 Sloterdijk

25 Sep. 1942 – 26 Nov. 1942 regular vacation

26 Nov.1942       Captain                                 Fort Orange

09 May. 1944      Captain                                 Edam

23 May.1945       Captain                                 Sommelsdijk

05 Jul. 1947         Captain                                 Noordam

31 Aug. 1947       Captain                                 Duivendijk

07 Jun. 1948        Captain                                 Westerdam

01 May. 1953      Captain                                 Nieuw Amsterdam

Retires from ss Nieuw Amsterdam on 05 Apr. 1956.




  1. Jacqueline Visser

    March 10, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Dear sir,

    I am the niece of Barend Cornelis Visser and I would like to find out more about his career with the HAL. I was just a little girl when he died and his wife died earlier. Now I am 62 and would like to know more about his career as a captain. Also my parents are no longer with me. I have found several photos and also some war ones.
    It would mean a lot to me if you can provide me with Some more information about him.
    Thank you in advance for your trouble.
    Kind regards,
    Jacqueline Visser

    • Thank you for reading my blog.

      I am very glad you contacted me as I am still in the process of compiling information about him. I will contact you from my hobby email, with what I already have.

      Best Regards

      Capt. Albert

  2. Mark Sedgwick

    May 4, 2021 at 2:13 am

    Dear Ms Visser,

    I found your message on this website while doing some research regarding the captains of the m.v Sloterdijk. The reason for this was my father spent several weeks on the Sloterdijk on his way to Italy with the Royal Canadian Artillery. After the Italian campaign, his regiment was transferred to Belgium, the Netherlands, and finally Germany, where they were disbanded..

    My father’s convoy was attacked by the Luftwaffe shortly after entering the
    Mediterranean. Several ships were lost or badly damaged. The attack was the first time that air-to-surface missiles were used in combat. The Sloterdijk performed very well in the attack. My father remembered it as a well-run ship with a very efficient crew (and wonderful food). His convoy sailed from Glasgow on October the 27th and arrived in Palermo around the 8th of November,1943.

    I still don’t know who the Captain of the Sloterdijk was at that time of the convoy; however, I enjoyed reading about your uncle, and his remarkable life.
    Thank you for writing about him.

    I hope this message finds you well. Please stay safe during the pandemic.



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