MV Doulos Visit
13th August 2008

The German charity Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books for All) brought in their ship, the MV Doulos, into Brisbane in early August. The ship is the oldest ocean-going vessel still in operation and was built 2 years after the Titanic. Engineers Australia had set up a tour of the vessel as well as organised for the chief engineer of the ship to give a brief talk on the technical aspects of keeping the old girl going.

We got to the ship slightly late due to my bungled timing, but we did get an hour or so of daylight to look at the riveted hull. About 60% of the hull is original.

The ship was berthed in an unconventional way with the starboard side butted up against the wharf.

Almost sunset. It will be for the ship too for the trip to Australia was part of its swansong voyage. The journey that began back at the Newport News Shipping and Drydock Company, America, in 1914 is almost at and end due to strict maritime fire safety regulations which are due to kick in soon.

Now to get into the nerve centre of the thing.

Looking upstream.

A view from the top.

Climbing onto the bridge.

Looking over the steering compass. The balls either side of it were for correcting the effects of ferromagnetic objects near the compass.

A view from the bridge.

There was no ramming speed option on the engine room telegraph.

Capt. Ashley McDonald’s hat.

The electrics onboard the ship were converted to AC in 1994. The warning board was lit up like a Christmas tree.

It’s always nice to know that the lifeboats cater for more people than the ship carries.

Doulos is about people. In Greek, ‘doulos’ is the word for servant. The ship is manned by volunteers who represent various Christian missions from the world.

The balance of each photo was altered to make the colours work for the overall picture.

What is love?

This set of steep stairs was one way to get to the engine room.

Once you’ve entered the room, you don’t actually see the engine. Well, unless you look down at the floor that is. The engine is an 8100 horsepower Fiat V18 and one walks along the catwalk ramp that is formed by the two rows of cylinder heads. The engine burns fuel oils and the ship itself is run at about half its top speed capability of 21 knots to save fuel.

There are eighteen of these pistons kicking about the engine.

If the engine is bigger than the workshop, how do they work on it?

The exhaust ducting.

The radar ball behind the smoke stack.

The view towards Bulimba.

Brisbane at dusk.

The ship started off its life as the SS Medina, a steam powered onion carrier.

It was renamed the SS Roma in the 1940s and used as a passenger ferry. It even transported refugees to Newcastle after World War II.

It was then bought over, motorised and renamed the MV Franca C and used as a cruise liner in the 1950s.

It was acquired by the charity in 1977 and has carried the name MV Doulos since.

Piston close up.

Starboard bow at Portside Hamilton. We said our goodbyes to the ship after the technical presentation was over. It will be sad to see such an old ship about to be scrapped in two years’ time as it will not be financially viable to bring her up to current maritime spec.

The makers of the Titanic claimed that their ship could not be sunk by God. The chief engineer, Dominic, made no such claims of the Doulos and agreed that it was by the miracle of God that the ship was still going after 94 years.

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