Thu, Mar 25, 2010
my paper
95-year-old ship to get new life

By Pamela Chow

THE world's oldest passenger ship, the 95-year-old MV Doulos, has docked in Singapore and is here to stay.

The ship - which will be renamed Doulos Phos, meaning "servant" and "light" in Greek - will house themed diners and a bookshop, and possibly a banquet room and cabins for overnight accommodation.

It may also house a branch of biblical-themed eatery Breaking Bread, currently located on board the non-motorised, Mississipi- style Stewords Riverboat moored at Marina South Pier, revealed the ship's new owner, Mr Eric Saw.

He is the director and chief executive of home-grown Christian organisation BizNaz Resources International, which also owns Stewords Riverboat.

Mr Saw hopes to secure an "easily accessible" location for the Doulos, slated to open next year.

The ship's previous owner, German Christian charity GBA Ships, had decommissioned and docked it here last November, putting it up for sale.

GBA Ships could not afford to "invest millions in steel, metal and in replacing all the wood" in the vessel, said its chief executive officer, Mr Peter Nicoll.

The ship would have been off to the scrapyard if there had been no takers by the end of last month.

But Mr Saw made an offer early this year and took over as owner last Thursday, because he saw it as an opportunity to expand his business.

BizNaz is investing $7.5 million on renovations, which will start in two months.

Mr Saw said: "We want to retain a bit of character from each era the Doulos has been through - from 1914, when it was just an onion carrier, to its transport of Roman pilgrims, and eventually as a cruise liner."

It has ferried more than 21 million people over 563,000km at sea in the last 32 years.

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