The Dutch passenger/cargoship Aldabi had a turbulent introduction into service – being seized by Germany following the invasion of the Netherlands in 1941.

The Dutch passenger/cargoship Aldabi had a turbulent introduction into service – being seized by Germany following the invasion of the Netherlands in 1941.

The 7,239gt vessel was originally built for the Dutch operator Van Nievelt, Goudriaan & Co (NiGoCo) by the NDM yard in Amsterdam. It had been launched in November 1940 and was being fitted out when taken over by the German ministry of transport in August 1941, along with two other ships destined for the same company, Albireo and Algol.

The Germans renamed Aldabi as Wolta in February 1942 and planned to use the vessel as a supply ship, supporting U-boat operations. Later in the year, the decision was taken to remodel the ship as a troop transporter in Hamburg and in March 1943 Wolta made a maiden voyage between Gdansk and Turku, initially under the management of Deutsche Afrika Linien of Hamburg. The vessel then operated as a target and accommodation ship for the 23rd and 24th U-boat flotillas,
supporting submarine training operations in the Baltic.

In April 1945, while running replenishment voyages in the Baltic, Wolta was hit by Russian bombs and underwent temporary repairs in Sonderburg before going on to serve as an accommodation ship for the Luftwaffe. In May 1945, at the end of the war, Wolta was visited in the port of Flensburg by the British maritime commission and the ministry of war transport gave orders for the ship to be made seaworthy and repaired in Wilhelmshaven. Following an inspection by the Dutch authorities, a Dutch crew was placed on the ship in July 1945 and the vessel was renamed Aldabi. In November of the same year, the vessel made a voyage to New York and Surabata, Indonesia, carrying general cargo for the Dutch government before returning to Rotterdam and being chartered to Vereenigde Nederlandse Scheepvaart Maatschappi’s Holland-Australia service.

Finally handed back to Van Nievelt, Goudriaan & Co in June 1946, Aldabi was put into service on the RZAL run between Rotterdam and South America, with ports of call including Bremen, Hamburg, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires. Powered by two eight-cylinder Stork engines, the vessel had a service speed of 13 knots and in almost 11 years of service on the route, Aldabi sailed more than 1.15m nautical miles and carried 895,000 tonnes of cargo.

The ship had accommodation for 55 passengers – including emigrants in search of new opportunities in Brazil. In April 1956, Aldabi suffered some extensive damage in a collision with the Liberian-flagged vessel Melody in the port of Rotterdam. Aldabi was discharging a cargo of wheat and frozen meat when Melody lost steerage and struck its port side. With passenger traffic on the South American run declining, Aldabi was sold in May 1967 to the Alda Shipping Company of Cyprus and renamed Alda, switching to the Cyprus flag. Two years later, the vessel was sold to the Greek company Astrodesco and in 1971 went into lay-up off the Greek port of Chalcis before sale for scrap in spring of the following year and demolition in Turkey.


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