New lease of life for MV Doulos
The ‘servant’ ship will continue to bring hope to Singapore.
SINGAPORE – 18 March, 2010
Ownership of the MV Doulos, listed as the world’s oldest ocean-going passenger ship, was officially transferred today to Christian businessman Eric Saw, Director and Chief Executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore.
Image: MV Doulos shortly after dry-docking in Singapore in November 2009, looking in remarkably good shape for her 95 years. (Courtesy of OM Ships International)
This is by no means the first time that Eric Saw has had contact with this unique vessel. “My family and I have been on board the Doulos on many occasions whenever she visited Singapore,” he said. “But it never, ever occurred to us that we would one day be the stewards of this remarkable, historic ship! We see the Lord’s hand and will very clearly in this transfer of stewardship, and pray that we will be worthy and faithful stewards.”
OM Ships Director of Marine Operations Mark Dimond signed on behalf of the organisation. He said, “When I first joined MV Doulos as a 3rd Engineer in January 1978, I had no idea that the vessel would end up serving for so many years. God used my time with the ship to teach me so much about Himself, and it has been a privilege to see how God has spoken to so many others who have visited or served on board over the years. I wish Eric Saw God’s blessing on his future plans.”
Following the signing of official paperwork, a handover event celebrating the ship’s 32 years of service and giving thanks to God for His faithfulness took place on board the vessel at a shipyard in Jurong, hosted by the remaining crew including Captain Dirk Geuze, who recently joined the vessel during its extended time in Singapore, Harald Smit, Company Representative and Technical Manager, presently serving on board as Chief Engineer, the last Director of Doulos, Seelan Govender, as well as Mark Dimond, and attended by Eric Saw and a number of other invited guests. On Friday 19 March, Eric Saw will in turn host a thanksgiving dinner aboard his Stewords Riverboat.
OM Ships International’s CEO Peter Nicoll, who was unable to be present at the handover, said, “The process of decommissioning Doulos and selling the vessel has proved to be complex and challenging. Our hope from the beginning was that a way could be found for the ship to be preserved, and I am delighted that agreement has been reached with Eric Saw. We are thrilled that Doulos will continue to be of service to Christians and the wider community in Singapore, and are thankful to God for opening this door.”
After renovations, Eric Saw plans to have the ship accessible to the public, but from a fixed berth. Even though the ship has avoided the scrap yard once again, it does now seem that her sailing days are over. The plans include an exhibit on board telling the story of the ship’s remarkable history and roles as an onion carrier, coastguard vessel, migrant ship, first-class cruise liner and most recently, floating book fair and home to an all-volunteer international Christian community of over 300 people from around 50 countries.
“Subject to approval by the various authorities, we would like to have themed restaurants and cafés, a bookshop and a banquet room for seminars, conferences and weddings,” said Eric Saw. “We also plan to have the ship play a role as a maritime museum with conducted tours. From a Christian perspective, we hope to host a small Bible School for lay persons which we hope to eventually establish on board. It will essentially have non-certification courses that busy lay persons can attend to grow in their Christian walk. One thing we will strive to achieve is to continue with the wonderful culture that has been so evident whenever someone comes on board the Doulos—a culture of love, friendship, and fellowship. This will be a hard act to follow!”
A change of name is also in Eric Saw’s mind. Having felt clearly led to the Bible verse Isaiah 49:6, he says, “Our plans are to rename her Doulos Phos where she will, in her new role, be both a servant and a light.”
Eric Saw also operates the Singapore based ‘Stewords Riverboat’ (www.riverboat.com.sg), a non-motorized Mississippi-styled riverboat moored at the city’s Marina South Pier which is a venue for a wide variety of functions and events, including ‘Breaking Bread’, a café themed around Bible-inspired food and fellowship.
Over the last 32 years, MV Doulos has welcomed over 21 million people on board, during 603 ports of call in over 104 countries. During that time, the vessel has covered more than 350,000 Nautical Miles—equivalent to sailing around the world 16 times! Operated by OM Ships International since 1978, the ship has served well, ‘bringing knowledge, help and hope’ to millions of people in and around the world’s port cities
CEO Peter Nicoll stated, “We recognise God’s faithfulness through these 32 years of wonderful service of the ‘servant’—Doulos—as an outstanding OM ministry. Many lives have been transformed, both of visitors and those who have served on board.”
OM Ships International continues to operate Logos Hope, launched into service in 2009 and presently serving the island communities of the Caribbean. For latest news and further information, visit http://www.omships.org.
Director of Communications
OM Ships International
And on behalf of:
Director & Chief Executive Steward
BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd