The 8,620gt Floragracht was built in 2011 by Changbo Shipyard at Jingjiang. She is in the present fleet. She is seen here leaving Rotterdam on 21st June 2014. (Nigel Lawrence)

Today, the Spliethoff’s Bevrachtings-kantoor B. V. (Chartering Office) is located in Amsterdam in their skyscraper Radarweg Head Office with 1,152 employee office workers generating sales of around €400 million per annum, with 80% of turnover coming from shipping and 20% from logistics. The larger Spliethoff Group has five main shipping subsidiaries and 116 companies in the corporate family, together with a vast and worldwide network of shipping and logistics trade routes. A big fleet of 125 ships crewed by over three thousand seagoing personnel transport timber, paper rolls, pulp and other forestry products, ores and other bulk and general cargoes, wind turbines, project cargo, yachts, and other heavy lifts up to 2,200 tonnes in both the coastal and deep sea trades. Group vessels have Dutch Masters and deck and engineering officers, and crews supplied by subsidiary companies in Manila, St. Petersburg, Kherson (Ukraine) and Tallinn in Estonia until the Ukraine war.

The 493grt Heerengracht was built in 1942 by Van Diepen at Waterhuizen as Ursula Heinemeier for H.F. Bertling. She was purchased by Herman Splietthoff in 1946. In 1959 she was sold to Magnus Solheim of Norway and renamed Grete Solheim and in 1964 she moved to K. Karmiris of Greece as Rosita K. On 27th May 1973 she sank off Cape Zuvra, Hydra while on a voyage from Piraeus to Benghazi with a cargo of cotton seed. (FotoFlite)



Spliethoff’s are well known in Amsterdam in the timber trades, and began as shipbrokers and freight forwarders in 1921 in the inland trades of the Netherlands. They moved into shipowning in 1946 with Dutch motor coasters in European waters, and later acquired larger deep-sea ships to extend their operations worldwide. All Dutch shipowners were helped by tonnage limits of a maximum size of 499 grt between 1945 and 1971 to qualify for a minimum crewing level of five or six men. In 1971, the maximum size of vessel of 1,599 grt was adopted by Holland and most international countries in order to qualify from exemption from carrying a radio officer.

Spliethoff’s also managed a large number of coasters for other Dutch owners, supervising around sixty other vessels, mostly ‘paragraph’ coasters of 499 grt built in Holland and Germany that could be crewed by their owner/skipper and four other crew. They carried coal, general cargo, bulk cargo, timber and forestry products around the Baltic and North Seas. These and other similar agencies, including Wijnne Barends, that was later taken over, operated as ‘Vertraunsmakler’ or ‘Agent’ as an onshore agent to charter, operate and cost account the coasters for the owner/skipper serving at sea.

In 1946, Herman Spliethoff, son of Johan Frederik Spliethoff, ordered and took delivery of his first motor coaster, Keizersgracht of 499 grt, completed that year at Waterhuizen and powered by a 6-cylinder Werkspoor diesel. His father, Johan Frederik Spliethoff, had been a shipbroker specialising in forestry products since 1921 with an office beside the Keizers canal or ‘gracht’ in Amsterdam. The Waterhuizen built motor coaster Heerengracht of 493 grt was purchased later in 1946, and Prinsengracht of 499 grt was completed at Zaandam in 1948, and Lucas Bols of 499 grt was managed for Erven Lucas Bols from 1949. The Spliethoff’s fleet of motor coasters, all of 499 grt, numbered sixteen in 1962, with eight owned and eight managed, the owned ones had names ending in ‘gracht’ e.g. Keizersgracht (2) completed by the Van Diepen yard at Waterhuizen in 1960. This twin hatch coaster was sold in 1971 to Italian owners and renamed Elviscot, and was lost on 10th January 1972 after grounding on Elba, her crew was saved.


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