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Rotterdamse Lloyd ship Sibajak venue for repatriates and immigrants
Very little is known about WWII troop transport era
The M.S. Sibajak may well have the most varied service of all the post-WWII Dutch immigrant ships. She had ties with the Dutch East Indies before and after the declaration of independence; she served the Allies as a troop transport ship while under the management of the widely-known British shipping company P. & O. As an immigrant ship plying the Atlantic, the Sibajak had as docking points Rotterdam, Quebec and New York. She rounded out her service back in Indonesia before being scrapped in Hong Kong.
The Sibajak was built for the Rotterdamse Lloyd at dockyard 181 of “De Schelde”, a shipyard in Vlissingen. The Sibajak registered at 12.040 GRT, measured 161.5 x 19.1 meter and was equipped with Sulzer diesel motors. Her speed was 17 knots. A 209 person-crew served a maximum passenger capacity of 527.
The Sibajak was launched April 2, 1927. Her maiden voyage, Rotterdam to Batavia, began February 8, 1928, ten months after Sibajak’s launching.
In 1935, the Sibajak was remodeled and fitted to keep pace with the times. After this she registered 12,226 GRT. At the outbreak of the war she was registered at Willemstad, Curaçao The registration was returned to The Netherlands in 1948.
In 1950 the Sibajak was pressed into service to take immigrants to Sydney, Australia, and to pick up repatriates in Jakarta in 1951. In April 1952 she took the route to Quebec, Canada for the first time and the following month was her first voyage to New York.
After further remodeling in 1953 the Sibajak - now measuring 12,432 GRT - took up regular sailing between Rotterdam and Jakarta (1955-1959).
The Sibajak still is fondly remembered by thousands as the ship on which they sailed to a new future, for many from the Dutch East Indies in the Netherlands and for many others in North America. As is the case with most other ships who were part of the Allied war effort, few details are known of that period.
Concerning availability of passenger lists of the immigration era, information on the Sibajak also is very sketchy. After eight years of collecting such lists, only three were added to the Windmill Archives’ collection. Should anyone have memories or stories of a voyage on the Sibajak, particularly to North America, do not hesitate to write them down and forward them to the Windmill Archives, c/o the Windmill Herald.