Doulos Says Farewell to Hong Kong before 'Retirement'

Aug 17, 2007 09:55 AM EDT

HONG KONG - The floating charity vessel, MV Doulos, will make its last visit to Hong Kong, Sept. 11 thru Oct. 7, before its scheduled retirement in 2010.

The ship’s international crew will host tours of the vessel, community outreach and the ship’s famed floating book fair – in partnership with Operation Mobilization’s Hong Kong-branch.

In its 29-years service to a German-based charity organization, the Doulos has logged 500 port-of-calls per year and hosted more than 18 million visitors.

Having been afloat for the last 93 years, the ship is now listed under the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest active seafaring passenger ship.

The ship also contains the world’s largest library at sea with 6,000 books in its collection.

Its all-volunteer crew, hailing from all over the world, performs a wide range of tasks ranging from constructing new homes in disaster zones to selling books affordable to impoverished families.

The ship derives its name from the Greek-word for "servant" and has stopped in over 100 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East as well as many island-nations.

The Doulos was first commissioned as a U.S.-flagged freighter under the name “Medina” in 1914 – two years after the SS Titanic was built.

The ship was later commandeered by the United States Coast Guard in WWII, turned into passenger ship “SS Roma” in 1948, and converted to Italian luxury-liner “MV Franca C” in 1952-70.

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In 1977, the German charity-group Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books For All), purchased the ship and renamed it the MV Doulos.

Since then, the Doulos works in partnership with other vessels including the MV Logos II – the first ran aground in 1988 - and the newly renovated MV Logos Hope, which joined the fleet in 2002.

The MV Doulos made its most recent stop in South Korea during the nation’s independence day celebration, on Tuesday.

Editor's Note: Gospel Herald Reporter Claudia Chan in San Francisco translated the article. Gospel Herald Reporter Hudson Tsuei in San Francisco contributed to the report.