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Dutch Liner Klipfontein Sunk Off Mozambique

By James Donahue

The Holland-Africa Line steamship Klipfontein was one of three liners known in their day for personalized Dutch service, luxurious accommodations and fine cuisine. Ironically, after surviving World War II, the liner sank after striking a sunken German U-boat off the East African coast on January 8, 1953.

The Klipfontein, under the command of a Captain Oosterhuis, was steaming from Holland south to Mozambique with 234 passengers and a cargo of 1,000 tons of copper and manganese ore and 100 bales of wool when it struck what was then the uncharted object that sank it.

The steamer took three hours to sink, going down by the bow. The seas were calm and six lifeboats were launched. The liner Bloemfontein Castle, Captain J. H. F. Ferguson, was close at hand and successfully took all of the passengers and crew aboard.

The 527-foot liner was launched on March 4, 1939, even as the first events of World War II were occurring. By 1942 the steamship was taken over by the U. S. War Shipping Administration for use as a troop ship. It survived the war the returned to service on the Holland-African Line in 1946.

The sister ships in the line were the Oranjefontein and the Jagersfontein. The trio of vessels had four passenger decks, had accommodations for 100 first class and 60 tourist class passengers. All first class lounges and swimming pools were located on the promenade deck. There was spacious   cargo space with four holds, two forward and two aft.