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The Fleets

Nederlandsch Zuid-Afrikaansche Scheepvaart Maatschappij / Holland-Afrika Lijn, Rotterdam 1919-1970

PosterMessrs Van der Eb and Dresselhuys sent out a steamer in 1919 loaded with phosphates, to South Africa. The prospects were good so several Dutch finance houses took an interest in the venture, and in the same year the N.V. Nederlandsch Zuid-Afrikaansche Scheepvaart Maatschappij was formed, with the intention of establishing a direct service from the Netherlands to South Africa. Approximately monthly sailings between the Netherlands and South Africa were maintained by way of the west coast including calls at ports in South West Africa (Namibia).

Formed in 1919 as the Nederlandsche Zuid-Africaansche Scheepvaart Maatschappij. (NZASM), initially with chartered tonnage, the company started a regular passenger service between Rotterdam and South Africa in 1920. The company was soon in financial difficulty, mostly due to competition from the German East Africa Line and in 1924 NZASM started operating a joint service with the Dutch East Africa Line under the management of Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Maatschappij (VNS). The new service was named Holland-Afrika Lijn and operated services from Holland to East and South Africa. The final demise of NZASM occurred in 1932 and it's ships and operations were taken over by VNS but still traded under the name of Holland-Afrika Lijn. After the German invasion of Holland in 1940, the fleet was operated by the exiled Dutch Government and operations to South Africa did not recommence until 1946. The 1960s saw increased competition from the Union Castle Mail SS Co. and an increase in air travel, greatly affecting trade and passenger ships were gradually withdrawn from service. In 1970 VNS became part of the new combine of Koninklijke Nedlloyd and the last passenger ship was transferred to the Hong Kong - Australia route.

Many thanks to Ted Finch and Henk Jungerius for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

  • Routes:
    • Holland-South Africa
  • Abbreviations:
    • VNS :      Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaartmaatschappij

1919 - 1932 Black
1932 - 1970 Black with orange band.


Funnel Funnel
Fleet: 1919 - 1932 1932 - 1970
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Bloemfontein (1) 1899 built by Raylton,Dixon & Co., Middlesborough | ex- Anversville built for Cie. Maritime Belge du Congo, ex- Dakar 1906, 1915 damaged by fire and sank at Forcados, 1920 salvaged and repaired, 1920 purchased from African Steamship Co. renamed Bloemfontein, 1924 sold to Ho Heng Steamship Co., London renamed Hong Peng, 1947 scrapped at Karachi. 4,081
Bloemfontein (2) 1934 1942 chartered to US Navy and converted to a transport, 1945 returned to owners but chartered to Dutch Government, 1947 returned to service, 1959 scrapped. 10,081
Boschfontein   see Nieuwkerk.  
Boschkerk   see Nieuwkerk.  
Elandsfontein 1940 laid up incomplete. 1945 sank in River Vistula after being shelled by Russian army. 1947 salvaged and towed to Holland, completed as Jagersfontein (3), 1967 sold to Kulukundis, Piraeus renamed Devon and scrapped. 10,547
Jagersfontein (1) 1918 built by Osaka Iron Works Ltd., Osaka | ex- Kaiyei Maru built for Katsuda Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha, 1920 purchased renamed Jagersfontein, 1932 transferred to VNS, 1932 sold to Tramp Shipping Development, Panama renamed Mount Helikon, 1935 sold to Rethymnis & Kulukundis Ltd, Panama, same name, 1952 sold to Leonidas G. Keranis, Greece, 1953 scrapped in England. 5,512
Jagersfontein (2) 1934 1939 chartered to Java Pacific Line, June 1942 torpedoed and sunk by U.107 in Atlantic. 10,083
Jagersfontein (3)   see Elandsfontein.  
Klipfontein (1) 1922 built by Rotterdamsche Droogdok Mij, Rotterdam | 1932 taken over by VNS, 1935 sold to Rizutto Fratolli, Italy renamed Gloriastar, 1936 renamed Gloriastella, 1940 sunk in harbour of Benghazi by Allied warplanes, 1949 wreck raised and scrapped in 1950 at La Spezia. 7,063
Klipfontein (2) 1939 1939 chartered to Java Pacific Line, 1942 converted to US Navy transport, 1946 returned to owners, 1947 resumed service, Jan. 1952 struck rocks and wrecked off Mozambique. 10,544
Nieuwkerk 1928 built for VNS, 1934 rebuilt to 7,139 tons renamed Boschfontein, 1942 chartered to US War Shipping Admin and converted to US Navy transport, 1946 returned to owners, 1956 converted to cargo ship renamed Boschkerk, 1958 scrapped after engine room fire. 6,280
Oranjefontein 1940 1941 seized by the Germans, 1945 returned to Dutch Government and rebuilt. 1946 entered service, 1967 scrapped. 10,547
Randfontein (1) 1920 built by Greenock Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Greenock | ex- Staur built for Fearnley & Eger, Christiania, 1921 purchased renamed Randfontein, 1932 transferred to VNS,1947 passenger accommodation removed and converted to cargo, renamed Randkerk,1950 scrapped at Hendrik Ido Ambacht. 5,059
Randfontein (2) 1958 1970 owners became Koninklijke Nedlloyd, 1971 renamed Nieuw Holland and transferred to Hong Kong to Japan and Australia service. 1974 sold to China renamed Yu Hua. 13,694
Randkerk   see Randfontein (1).  
Rietfontein 1918 built by Osaka Iron Works Ltd., Osaka | ex- Taiyu Maru built for Uchida Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha, 1920 purchased by Van der Eb & Dresselhuys renamed Maristo, 1921 sold to NZASM renamed Rietfontein, 1932 transferred to VNS, 1934 scrapped at Hendrik Ido Ambacht. 5,890
Springfontein 1921 built by Lithgows Ltd., Port Glasgow | 1932 taken over by VNS, 1941 caught fire and sank at Freetown. 7,349

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