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Volendam temporary ‘home’ to numerous Dutch North Americans

Ship survived WWII torpedo attack

Tags: Immigration

Dutch ocean liner Volendam II which gave North America-destined passage to numerous Dutch immigrants in her thirty years of service, survived storms, experienced both peace and war. She survived a torpedo hit and managed to stay afloat long enough to make the ship into a safe harbour during World War II.

One of the better known passenger and immigrant ships, the Volendam II is a sistership to the Veendam. Both were built by Haland & Wolff, an English shipyard. The Volendam was launched the 6th of July, 1922 from dockyard #649.

The ship’s final construction was completed on October 12, 1922 and she began her maiden voyage from Rotterdam to New York on November 4 that year. Originally the ship could accommodate 263 first class-, 436 second class- and 1200 third class passengers while she was manned by a crew of 350 people.

Just like the Veendam, the Volendam was remodelled in 1928 and passenger capacity was reduced to 263, 428 and 484 respectively.


The outbreak of World War II also had a profound im-pact on the Volendam. In May of 1940 the ship was requisitioned by the British government, becoming part of the famous Cunard Line. But the ravages of war did not leave the Volendam untouched: on August 31, about 300 miles off the Irish coast, she was torpedoed by a German submarine. Three other ships of the convoy took on board 335 children and 271 adults who had survived the attack. Contrary to all expectations, the Volendam remained afloat and was towed to a British harbour by the tug, the Ranger.

In July 1941, the Volendam was again put to work for the Allied war effort; this time as a troop transport ship. Four years later she was decommissioned and returned to its original owners. Subsequent-ly, she was hired by the Dutch Ministry of Transport which used her as a troop transport ship to the then restless Dutch East Indies. The Volendam also took Dutch immigrants to Australia.

In 1947, the ship again plied the North Atlantic on the route between Rotterdam and NewYork. This time she held no less than 1682 passengers in one passenger class, economy, one familiar to many Dutch immigrants.

In February 1952, the Volendam was deployed and destined for the scrapyard. The ship had become outdated and fell victim to the encroachment of rapidly improving technology, both on the sea and in the air. A turbine steamer, she had a capacity of 15,434 GRT and measured 175,6X20.5 m. twinpropeller.

The Volendam design in the Immigrant Ship plaque series - in 1978 produced by Vanderheide Publishing - was one of the more popular ones out of the list of 60. After two decades, the line was discontinued last year. Only customized designs for reunions (with a minimum run of 50) can still be ordered.

Should anyone have written a diary of their voyage on any of the ships or possess a copy of their passenger list, they are requested to contact the office of the Windmill Herald. The Windmill Archives’ passenger list collection is far from being complete!