All text and photographs (unless stated otherwise) © Paul Timmerman
I visited this oldest seagoing passenger ship in April 2004 in the Dutch port of Scheveningen and took a most interesting tour on board. Photographs I made during my visit can be seen on my Doulos - photo page.
Go to Doulos photo page to have a look on board and visit this remarkable grand old lady of the seas......
In the late sixties, a group of students formed an organisation based on their Christian religion to offer support to people all over the world, foremost those in very poor countries. Most important goal of the organisation called Operation Mobilisation is bringing educational literature to those who cannot afford to purchase books themselves. Their leader, a Mr. George Verwer, decided that a ship would be the most suitable way of transportation in order to achieve this.
Umanak, 2.319 tons
So in 1970, a former Danish vessel, the Umanak was acquired, and she was adapted/ rebuilt to act as a floating book fair. She was renamed Logos (Greek for “Word”). Although there were some doubts if people would be interested when Logos would sail on her first voyage in 1971, there was so much enthusiasm that the crew had tot take extra security measures to keep the crowd in control…..
Alas, after 17 years of reliable service, Logos stranded on a submerged rock in Chilean waters and had to be abandoned by her crew. All aboard were saved. She had visited 103 countries and over 51 million(!) books and leaflets were sold or given away.
Logos stranded, 1988
Introduction of Doulos
In the mean time, OM had been successful in acquiring a second vessel, the former Italian cruise ship Franca C. Although built in 1914, this old ship still was in a remarkable good condition and still had many years of life left in her.
She had started life in 1914, as the freighter Medina carrying vegetables and fruits. In 1948 she was converted to a passenger ship, and in the process received two extra decks and a new bow. Four years later she was sold to Costa Cruises, who upgraded her interiors to the standards of a luxury cruise ship. Franca C, as she was renamed, was reengined and later given a new funnel. She would sail for Costa for a quarter of a century, sailing in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
freighter Medina, 1914
In 1977, OM inspected her, and it became clear that after a major overhaul, this vessel could sail on for many years to come. So she was immediately acquired and sent to Genoa and Bremen for much needed work and restocking.
cruise ship Bianca C, 1952
After she was rebuilt, she started her role as OM’s second floating book fair. She carries an impressive 500.000 books in her hold, books that are donated or sold at extra low prices by publishers all over the world. Apart from books written in English, at every port books written in the local language are added.
Doulos, 1978, floating book fair
Aboard Doulos appr. 330 volunteers, including families are working in the ships various departments (technical department for ships' maintenance, but here is a school, hospital, bakery, laundry shop, nursery and of course the book fair as well…). Apart from food and some other basic requirements, the crew does not get paid. Their average stay on board is 2 years. She can accommodate 600 persons for lectures and conferences.
At this time, Doulos, the Logos which had started it all in 1971 and the second Logos, a converted car ferry appropiately named Logos II have visited 135 countries and have received an incredible 26 million visitors!
Recently, OM has acquired another vessel, also a former car ferry, which has spent most of her life sailing between Denmark, Norway, the Faroer Islands and Iceland for a company named Smyrill Line.
It is expected that Doulos will be retired when new SOLAS (Safety Of Lives At Sea) rules will be implemented in 2010.
To read more of this interesting organisation and it's ships, follow this link: