MS Selandia

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"Selandia" redirects here. For the Danish ferry, see Princess Selandia.
MS Selandia
Name: MS Selandia
Namesake: Sjælland
Owner: East Asiatic Company
Route: between Scandinavia, Genoa, Italy, and Bangkok, Thailand
Builder: Burmeister & Wain, Copenhagen
Yard number: 276[1]
Launched: 4 November 1911
Completed: February 1912
Fate: wrecked Omaisaki, Japan 26 January 1942[1]
General characteristics
Tonnage: 6,800 dwt; 4964 GRT
Length: 370 ft (112.8 m)
Beam: 53 ft (16.2 m)
Installed power: 2 x eight-cylinder, four-cycle, 1,250 hp diesel engines
Propulsion: twin-screw
Speed: 12 knots[1]
MS Selandia

MS Selandia was the most advanced ocean-going diesel motor ship in her time.

"Selandia" is the Latin name for the Danish island of Sjælland. The first Selandia (1912) was ordered by the Danish trading firm East Asiatic Company for service between Scandinavia, Genoa, Italy, and Bangkok, Thailand. She was built at Burmeister & Wain Shipyard in Copenhagen, Denmark, and launched on 4 November 1911 before embarking on her maiden journey from Copenhagen to Bangkok on 22 February 1912. Selandia did not have a funnel; instead exhaust from her engines escaped through the rear mast. However, this claim was significantly challenged in 1996.

She is frequently referred to as "the world's first ocean-going diesel-powered ship", as previous powered vessels were driven by steam. There is evidence to say that the engine installation in Selandia was a world-first on numerous points, but she was not the world's first diesel-driven ocean-going ship, having been beaten to it by the Dutch "Vulcanus" two years earlier.[2] However, she was certainly the largest and most advanced diesel-driven ship at the time of her maiden voyage in January 1912.[3]

Built for cargo and passenger carriage, Selandia had "very ample and rather luxurious" cabins for 20 first class passengers, single-berth cabins of "exceptional size, with toilet and bath for every two cabins, and an extra feature is the servants' rooms, arranged in connection with private cabins."[4]

She was sold to Panama in 1936 and renamed Norseman,[5] and Tornator in 1940.[1]

Later ships named Selandia[edit]

A second ship of the same name was built in 1938 and scrapped in 1962.[5] The third Selandia, built in 1972, was sold to USA in 1994 and renamed USNS Gilliland in 1998.[5] Eitzen Maritime Services owned and operated a third vessel named Selandia.


"Selandia – The World's First Oceangoing Diesel Vessel". 240 pages, released February 2012 in English and Danish editions by Forlaget Nautilus. Author is Anders Riis, Danish shipping journalist. ISBN 978-87-90924-79-9 (English language), ISBN 978-87-90924-75-1 (Danish language)

An illustrated article on the Selandia and its engines appeared in the 2012 Imarest "Marine Propulsion Review".


"The Ship that Changed the World" is a 60-minute drama documentary about the first oceangoing diesel-driven ship, M/S Selandia. The film was produced in 2012 by Chroma Film ApS, with executive producer Anders Dylov for the 100-year anniversary on 17 February of that year. It was directed by Michael Schmidt-Olsen.


  1. ^ a b c d "Search result for "5603423"". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 12 April 2009. 
  2. ^ 2012 Imarest "Marine Propulsion Review" pages 8–12
  3. ^ Stapersma,Prof. D.: 'Vulcanus versus Selandia' Scheepswerktuigkunde, July 1996.
  4. ^ "Ships of the Century". Marine Log. Retrieved 12 April 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c "The Fleets: East Asiatic Company". Ship List. Retrieved 12 April 2009. 


Stapersma, Prof. D.: 'Vulcanus versus Selandia' Scheepswerktuigkunde, July 1996.[1]