The mystery ship being demolished in Kaohsiung is one of two Saudi Arabian sisterships: Miriam B or NoorB. They were built in 1938 for Koninklijke Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij (Royal Netherlands Steamship Co) as the cargo vessels Pericles and Socrates (3,167grt and 3,169grt/4,670dwt).

In 1950 both were converted to passenger-cargo ships and renamed Oranjestad and Willemstad respectively. As such, tonnage increased to just under 5,100grt through the adding of more top hamper, but dimensions remained the same at 359ft by 50ft. Both were propelled by their original 3,400bhp seven-cylinder Stork diesels, giving a service speed of 13.5 knots. Both served in their owners’ Amsterdam to (Paramaribo) Surinam service for many years. In 1967 they were sold to Saudi Lines of Jeddah, and refitted as pilgrim ships. They were both scrapped at Kaohsiung, in 1973 and 1974 respectively. Thus, these practically identical sisterships had remarkably parallel career histories.

In Jim Shaw’s picture, the ship is being demolished from the stern towards the bow, in other words one is looking at the hulk from the port bow, with bridge front facing the viewer and foremast at extreme left. The rear (third) mast and funnel have already gone, as has the dark-painted navigating bridge. The only feature distinguishing the two sisters was their radar mast. The mast is still intact in the mystery picture and I therefore deduce that the ship pictured is Miriam B (ex-Oranjestad, ex-Pericles).

Robert H. Langlois, Vale, Guernsey

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