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

1889 Veendam (I)

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.
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)


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)


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.


  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

  5. My great great grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1893 on this ship.

    Does anyone know what the specific differences between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd classes were?

    • Captain Albert

      April 22, 2019 at 1:05 pm

      Thank you for reading my bog.
      All classes had separate dining rooms. First class lived in the middle of the ship, 2nd class in the stern (propellor noise) 3rd class in the bow (bad weather) First class cabins had electricity and still standing water and good beds, communal toilets and one bath. 2nd class had washing facilities down the hallway and one bath. Food was simpler than 1st class. 3rd class was main in dormitories with women and men separated unless you could afford a simple cabin. Meals were served by the company with one course only. Washing and communal toilets down the corridor, and lights out at 10 pm. During bad weather, you were stuck inside.

      I hope this helps

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  6. My great father was a chef on this ship from 1888-1898. Anyone have pictures or anything? Any info? He was in it right until Feb 6th. Last name DeHaas

    • Thank you for reading my blog.

      I am afraid that there are hardly any photos out in the public domain from those days and certainly nothing from the crew of those days. It is even very hard to find photos of the captains of those days, and they were sometimes in the lime light. The only documentation that is available are the muster lists which show that your Grand grand father worked on the ship, but that you already know.

      Best Regards

      Capt. Albert

  7. Surio Mario Martines Chuanes Don Zavar II

    July 20, 2023 at 5:18 am

    like our article, I was looking for more information about this ship but couldn’t find anything. You saved me a lots of time. But there is one thing. could you please check if you wrote a correct coordinates please. Because when I search them on google maps it gave me far away from Britain coast, in the far of the Atlantic ocean. And there are I think weary deep levels of the ocean. And as far I know the ship wrecked in the depth 9m. And also, you probably don’t know but also want ask what shipwreck did she collided with.

    thanks a lot.

    • Captain Albert

      July 22, 2023 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you having an interest in my blog.
      To answer your questions: yes the location is correct. The Veendam had left Rotterdam on 3 Feb. 1898 and was thus 3 days under way, which brought somewhere South West of Ireland in the open north Atlantic. to deep to try and find the wreck.
      It is unknown which partly submerged hull caused the collision with the Veendam. Holland America never found out otherwise there might have been an insurance case.

      Thank you and best regards

      Capt. Albert

  8. Wow! This is wonderful information! My Great Grandfather was on the voyage that landed 4-28-1892 at 9 months old. By looking at the manifest, they had a main deck cabin. Thank you for posting this, as I was o ly able to find info on the ships namesake 1922 and after.

  9. Edwin Diersmann

    December 9, 2023 at 5:24 pm

    I am particularly interested in the passenger list of the voyage after which the Veendam reached NY Oct 25, 1897.

    In Ancestry I cannot find such a list. Is it available, somewhere, and could somebody share it with me?

    Thanks in advance!

    • You can search for passenger lists https://heritage.statueofliberty.org/ you make a profile ( its free) and do a search. I found my great great grandparents and my great grandmother and her siblings arriving in NY 1889 on the ship. But I had to search for different spelling before I found them.

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