MV Doulos Phos

Doulos Phos held the record of being the world's oldest active ocean-faring passenger ship until December 2009, having travelled the world's oceans from the time of her building in 1914 until being retired from cruising service at the end of 2009. She is now owned by Eric Saw, director and chief executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore.[6] She was previously operated by the German charity Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books for All), and was used as a floating bookshop. The ship has previously been known as the SS Medina, the SS Roma, the MS Franca C, and the MV Doulos. The Doulos ended her final cruise in late 2009 at Singapore, with the ship being handed over to her new owners on 18 March 2010. The ship underwent a three year conversion into a luxury hotel that opened in June of 2019.[7]

The Doulos at Southampton, England in 2004
United States
Name: SS Medina[1]

Mallory Steamship Company (1914–1932)

Clyde-Mallory Line (1932–1948)[2]
Ordered: 28 August 1913[3]
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company[1]
Yard number: 176[1]
Laid down: 21 January 1914
Launched: 22 August 1914[3]
Sponsored by: Frances Stuart Semmes
Christened: 22 August 1914
Acquired: 29 September 1914[1]
Commissioned: 29 September 1914[3]
Fate: Transferred to Cia Naviera San Miguel SA, 1948[3]
Name: SS Roma[3]
Operator: Cia Naviera San Miguel SA[3]
Acquired: 1948[3]
Fate: Transferred to Costa Lines, 1953[3]
Name: MS Franca C[3]
Operator: Costa Lines[3]
Port of registry: Genoa,  Italy[3]
Acquired: 1953[3]
Fate: Transferred to Gute Bücher für Alle, 1977[3]
Name: MV Doulos[3]
Operator: Gute Bücher für Alle[3]
Port of registry: Valletta,  Malta[3]
Acquired: 1977[3]
Fate: Transferred to BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd, 2010[3]
Notes: Her name means "Servant" in Greek.
Name: MV Doulos Phos[3]
Operator: BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd[3]
Port of registry: Valletta,  Malta[3]
Acquired: 2010[3]
Fate: Hotel Ship[3]
Notes: Her name means "Servant Light" in Greek.
General characteristics (as built)
Tonnage: 5,426 GRT
Length: 410 feet
Beam: 54 feet
Height: 54 feet
Draught: 18.2 feet
Installed power:

Single triple-expansion engine, 4 coal-fired boilers, 4,100 hp shaft power[4]

(Converted to oil 1922)
Speed: 14 knots
General characteristics (1949 onwards)
  • 6,822 GRT (1960)
  • 6,549 GRT (1984)
  • 6,818 GRT (2009)
Speed: 15 knots
Capacity: 414
Crew: 350

Cargo ship era

On 28 August 1913, a contract for two steel freight steamships was signed by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and the Mallory Steamship Company of the United States. "The vessel will be a single screw steamship of the hurricane deck type with straight stem and elliptical stern, and with deck houses amidship and aft for the crew accommodations...." The original specifications referred to the vessels as hulls No. 175 and No. 176. Hull No. 175 would eventually be named SS Neches and hull No. 176 became SS "Medina".[4] (Neches would be lost in a collision with British warship in 1918.)[8] The full contract for the vessels filled a 186-page volume and included the fittings commonly used in a ship for her era and also provision for tropical itineraries – mosquito nets for the crew quarters.

Terrorist attack

On 11 August 1991, during the final night of the MV Doulos' stop in the southern Philippine port of Zamboanga City, two of her foreign crewmembers were killed when a grenade thrown by members of the Abu Sayyaf Islamist terrorist group[9] exploded on stage during a performance by its Christian volunteers.[10] Four locals were killed[11] and 32 others were injured, including several crew members of the missionary ship.[10]

In 1995, in order to conform to then new SOLAS regulations, she was fitted with a sprinkler system and combustible wall panels were removed and replaced. This unfortunately meant the loss of many of her wall murals that had been installed by Costa.[12]

In 2006, while in Bahrain, a satellite communication system was installed.[4]

Statistics as MV Doulos[5]
Total visitors 21,461,212
Programme attendance 3,500,898
Books sold 1,513,446
Nautical miles sailed 358,121
Total ports visited 603
Countries and territories visited 104
Different ports visited 297


In 2009, while Doulos was in dry dock in Singapore, a survey conducted by the ship's classification society RINA found numerous significant problems and works with the ship's machinery, structure, and systems that would need to have been completed by 31 December 2009 for the ship's certificates to be reissued and the ship to continue sailing. Because the shipyard servicing the Doulos would not accept the ship for repairs until September 2010, and the cost of the work would be a total in excess of 10 million euros, and the limited ministry that Doulos would have after the repairs, it was decided to end Doulos Ministry at the end of 2009, instead of 2010 as originally planned.[4] The ship was offered for scrap at the end of 2009 when her operational certification expired.[4] A caretaker crew remained with Doulos,[6] expecting to sail her to the breakers.[13]

New owners

On 18 March 2010, Doulos again escaped the breakers and had a new owner, Mr. Eric Saw, director and chief executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore.[14] She was renamed Doulos Phos (Servant of Light).[14]

In 2015, her current owners formed a joint venture with two other companies with the intention of converting the ship into a luxury hotel. That August the ship was towed out of Singapore to Batam, Indonesia, to be refurbished before moving to the Island of Bintan to become part of a US$25 million hotel resort. In October 2015 she went into drydock, where her hull was refurbished.[15] Steel reinforcement bracing was added inside her hull to support her weight on dry land.[14] She was then towed to a location adjacent to the Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal. Using a system of pulling cables and air bags,[16]the ship was hoisted onto the promontory point.[17] This marked the end of her career as a floating ship.

Hotel conversion

In February 2016 the ship was officially renamed Doulos Phos, The Ship Hotel and began conversion into a luxury hotel.[18] The conversion is expected to retain the ship's bridge and engine room as part of the Maritime Heritage Museum.[19] Decks A and B are used as the hotel. Originally scheduled to open in late 2016, workers and heavy equipment were still on the site in November 2017.[20] The hotel opened in 2019 with 104 rooms, all with a sea view.[21]

See also


  1. Colton, Tim. "Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News VA". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  2. "Fleet List: Mallory Line / Clyde-Mallory Line". TheShipsList. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  3. "Doulos History". Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  4. Lee, Bill. "SS Medina NNS Hull #176...95 Years of Service...and Counting! (2010)" (PDF). Newport News Apprentice Alumni Association. Newport News Apprentice Alumni Association. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  5. "Previous Ships – Doulos". GBA Ships e.V. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  6. Kenego, Peter (6 January 2013). "Decking DOULOS PHOS, Part Three". Maritime Matters. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  7. "Doulos Phos the Ship Hotel". Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  8. "Fleets of the Mallory Line / Clyde-Mallory Line". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  9. "Abu Sayyaf kidnappings, bombings and other attacks". GMA News. 23 August 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  10. Debbie Meroff. "In His Majesty's Service: A Salute to the MV Doulos". OM International. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  11. Eliza Griswold. "Waging Peace in the Philippines". Smithsonian. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  12. Gossens, Reuben. "M/V Doulos – Chapter 7 – SOLAS 1995". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  13. Kengo, Peter (23 December 2012). "Decking DOULOS PHOS, Part Two: DOULOS". Maritime Matters. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  14. Lee, Bill (May 2016). "UPDATE – SS MEDINA" (PDF). Newport News Shipbuilding Apprentice Alumni. Newport News Apprentice Alumni. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  15. "Restoration of the MV Doulos Phos". Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  16. Chesare, Julia (31 October 2015). "1914-Built DOULOS PHOS on the Beach". Maritime Matters. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  17. "Coming soon..Doulos Phos, The Ship Hotel". Bintan Resorts International Pte. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  18. "Book ship Doulos turned into hotel on land". Free Malaysia Today News. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  19. Tham, E-lyn (16 February 2016). "All Aboard! Luxurious Ship-Hotel Set to Open in Bintan". Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  20. "The Legendary Ship MV Doulos Phos is Stuck in Bintan. Here's the Story (November 30, 2017)". Tribun Batan. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  21. "Bintan Resorts - Doulos Phos the Ship Hotel". Retrieved 17 November 2019.

Further reading

  • Elaine Rhoton. (1997) The Doulos Story. Carlisle: OM Publishing ISBN 1-85078-269-5
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