SS Batavier II (1897)
SS Batavier II, as she appeared from 1897–1909
|Name:||SS Batavier II|
|Owner:||William Müller & Co.|
|Port of registry:||Rotterdam|
|Builder:||Gourlay Brothers, Dundee, Scotland|
|Launched:||17 August 1897|
|Captured:||seized as prize by UB-6, 24 September 1916|
|Fate:||shelled and sunk by HMS E55, 27 July 1917|
|Beam:||10.2 m (33 ft 6 in)|
|Propulsion:||1 × 4-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engine, 2,000 ihp (1,500 kW)|
|Speed:||13 to 14 knots (24–26 km/h)|
SS Batavier II was a steam packet for the Batavier Line that sailed between Rotterdam and London for most of her career. The ship was built in 1897 by the Gourlay Brothers of Dundee. The Dutch ship could carry a limited amount of freight and up to 321 passengers. She was rebuilt in 1909 which increased her length by over 5 metres (16 ft).
During World War I, the Batavier Line attempted to maintain service, but in September 1916, Batavier II was seized as a prize by German submarine UB-6 and sailed into Zeebrugge and retained. Ten months later, Batavier II was shelled by British submarine E55 and sank near Texel.
Batavier II and her sister ship Batavier III were built for William Müller and Company by the Gourlay Brothers of Dundee, Scotland. The ship was launched on 17 August 1897. As built, she was 74.4 metres (244 ft 1 in) long (between perpendiculars) and 10.2 metres (33 ft 6 in) abeam. Batavier II was powered by a single 4-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engine of 2,000 indicated horsepower (1,500 kW) that moved her up to 14 knots (26 km/h). She could carry up to 321 passengers: 44 in first class, 27 in second class, and up to 250 in steerage. She was listed at 1,136 gross register tons (GRT).
Upon completion in October 1897, she joined the 683-ton Batavier I in packet service between Rotterdam and London. The pair were joined by Batavier III after her completion in November. In Rotterdam, the ships docked at the Willemsplein; in London, the ships originally docked near London Bridge, but in 1899 switched to the Customs House and Wool Quays near the Tower Bridge. Also beginning in 1899, Batavier Line service between Rotterdam and London was offered daily except Sundays; each of the ships made three round trips per week. In addition to passengers, Batavier II could also carry a limited quantity of freight. One example that may be typical was a load of 1 long ton (1.1 short tons) of dry chemical wood pulp in 5 bales carried to London in March 1907. In 1909, Batavier II was rebuilt to 1,335 GRT and lengthened by 5.3 metres (17 ft 5 in) to 79.7 metres (261 ft 6 in).
After the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Batavier Line continued service on the Rotterdam–London route. In December 1914, Batavier II made news when porters handling what was identified as a 750-pound (340 kg) crate of Swedish matches discovered an escaped German Army officer inside. The plan, apparently, was for him to be shipped from London to Rotterdam via Batavier II. The plot unraveled when the porters could only move the heavy crate by rolling it, which knocked the man unconscious; the officer was returned to the custody of British military officials.
In June 1915, passengers on Batavier II witnessed an attack by two German airplanes against a British steamship between the Galloper and the North Hinder Lightships. The attack was broken off when two British airplanes arrived over the ship to engage the German aircraft; none of the airplanes were destroyed, and the ship was unscathed.
On 24 September 1916, after Batavier II had departed from Rotterdam, the ship was stopped by the German submarine UB-6. She was seized as prize and sailed into German-held Zeebrugge. There, Batavier II's Dutch crew and women and children passengers were released and sent via train to Rotterdam. The Germans confiscated the ship's cargo of food. Also on board Batavier II were four escaped Russian prisoners of war and Richard Hansemann, a German-born New York businessman. American newspapers carried reports of Hansemann's plight, reporting by 1 October that he would likely be impressed into the German Army.
Batavier II's whereabouts and activities over the next ten months are uncertain. She remained under German control for a time, but how long is not clear from sources. Batavier II was back under Dutch control by late July 1917.
On 27 July 1917, Batavier II was shelled by British submarine E55 just outside Dutch territorial waters.[Note 1] Damaged by E55's gunfire, Batavier II's crew steered her back into Dutch territorial waters. E55 then sent a prize crew on board Batavier II and sailed her back outside Dutch waters. By the time a Dutch torpedo boat arrived on the scene, Batavier II was taking on water and had drifted back into Dutch territory. The torpedo boat sent the message "respect neutrality" to E55 which retrieved her prize crew and departed. Despite efforts to stem the flow of water, Batavier II sank 1 nautical mile (1.9 km) from the Molengat North Buoy, off Texel.
- Sources alternately identify the submarine as HMS L55, upon which construction had not yet begun in July 1917; or "C55"', never used by a British submarine. See: "Capture of Dutch ship by submarine". The Christian Science Monitor. 1 Aug 1917. p. 1. Also see: "How Batavier II was sunk". The New York Times. 1 Aug 1917. p. 2.
- "Batavier Line". Simplon Postcards: The Passenger Ship Website. Ian Boyle. Retrieved 17 March 2009.
- "Batavier II (5600938)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 17 March 2009. (subscription required (. ))
- "Batavier Line". The Ships List. 9 March 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2009.
- "Batavier III (5600939)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 17 March 2009. (subscription required (. ))
- van Ysselsteyn, p. 222.
- "British imports of chemical and mechanical wood pulp for the week ended March 23rd 1907". The World's Paper Trade Review; A Weekly Journal for Paper Makers & Engineers (London: W. John Stonhill & Co.). XLVII (14): 42. 5 April 1907. OCLC 49480751.
- "Find German officer hidden in a big box" (pdf). The New York Times. 13 December 1914. p. 2. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- Spooner, Stanley, ed. (4 June 1915). "Aircraft and the War". Flight (London: Royal Aero Club) VII (23): 404. ISSN 0015-3710. OCLC 6674288.
- "Another Dutch ship seized by Germans" (pdf). The New York Times. 25 September 1916. p. 1. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Ships hit by UB 6". U-Boat War in World War I. Uboat.net. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- "Germans hold New Yorker". The Washington Post. 27 September 1916. p. 3.
- "May have to join army" (pdf). The New York Times. 1 October 1916. p. 5. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Batavier Ii (p.)". U-Boat War in World War I. Uboat.net. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- "How Batavier II was sunk". The New York Times. 1 Aug 1917. p. 2.
- "Capture of Dutch ship by submarine". The Christian Science Monitor. 1 Aug 1917. p. 1.
- van Ysselsteyn, Hendrik Albert (1908). The Port of Rotterdam (3d ed.). Rotterdam: Nijgh & Van Ditmar's Publishing Co. OCLC 60983381.