MV Doulos decommissioned

() - December 5, 2009 - 12:00am

MOSBACH, Germany – The service of MV Doulos of the non-profit organization GBA (Gute Bucher fur Alle or Good Books for All) Ships will come to an end come December 31.

Doulos is the world’s oldest ocean-going passenger ship, now 95 years old, with the hull built in 1914, just two years after Titanic. In spite of the all-year round maintenance that has taken place, the amount of steel replacement and other repairs needed for her to continue sailing are overwhelming. The ship is presently in Singapore and has been undergoing the annual period of dry dock and surveys.

Early indications are that the work would cost over €10 million and take five months to complete. The GBA Ships executive leadership team and board believe that it is not appropriate to invest resources on this scale into the ship, since Doulos would have a limited future.

Peter Nicoll, chief executive officer of GBA Ships, said: “The outcome of this is that Doulos will not be able to continue in service. This is not what any of us wanted, and has serious consequences for everyone on board, those about to join and for ports we planned to visit.”

“We are committed to operating safe ships and complying with the requirements of our classification society, as well as the International Safety Management requirements for ships,” Nicoll affirmed.

The well-being of the 300 crew and staff onboard is of paramount importance. Each person will receive the guidance and support they need to decide what their next steps should be. Some are close to the end of their period of service, while others joined as recently as September.

Keeping the ship compliant with the highest marine standards has been a real challenge over the years. It is a remarkable tribute to the professionalism and dedication of the non-profit organization’s technical personnel that the ship has continued to meet marine requirements until now, Nicoll said.

He added, “We recognize God’s faithfulness through these 32 years of wonderful service of the ‘servant’ — Doulos — through more than 600 port visits in over 100 countries. Many lives have been transformed, both visitors and those who have served on board.

We are also deeply grateful to the government authorities, sponsors and partners around the world who have supported the ship through the years. GBA Ships is investigating options to charter another ship in the interim and has already begun working on the Doulos replacement project, he further said.

About GBA Ships

GBA Ships exists to bring knowledge, help and hope to the people of the world. The firm pioneered the concept of using ships to transport literature, humanitarian aid and people resources. The ships are well known for their work of providing high-quality literature in ports around the world. The crew and staff, including professional seafarers, are all non-salaried volunteers. With over 70 different nationalities represented, the onboard communities are a fascinating expression of cross-cultural living and understanding. Crewmembers are unified by their faith and goal to serve in port communities. The ships remain in port for several weeks and open to thousands of visitors every day.

Over one million visitors come on board each year to browse the hallmark of the ships—a large floating book fair with 6,000 titles in stock, including books for university studies or professional and career interests, books on history, science, economics, language learning, hobbies, novels, children’s stories, biographies, dictionaries, atlases, life skills, philosophy and faith.

The ships also bring aid and relief to needy people and places around the world. Crewmembers go ashore to provide medical aid, help construct schools, orphanages and homes, and give gifts of food, clothing and books. Teams also visit hospitals, orphanages and prisons as an expression of God’s compassion and love.

Since 1970, more than 40 million people have visited the ships during more than 1,350 port visits in 158 nations.GBA Ships’ operational costs are met by sponsorship of onboard personnel, general donations and gifts, reductions and waivers of fees by civic and port authorities, book sales, and corporate support in each port of call.

GBA Ships also operates Logos Hope and is a private, non-profit entity registered here in Germany.

During her lengthy career, Doulos sailed under three other distinct names – Medina, Roma and Franca C.

Doulos is Greek for “servant” or “slave”. Volunteers onboard Doulos had sought to serve God and the nations they had visited. In the past, she has been utilized for four very different purposes – freighting goods, transporting emigrants, for cruises, and most recently in her role as a vessel to “bring knowledge, help and hope to the people of the world.”

Cebu, Bacolod, Subic and Manila are among the ports in the Philippines where she had docked. — Ken Miller/MEEV (THE FREEMAN)

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