Past and PresentStoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland (SMZ)

MV Prinses Beatrix (1939) – Past and Present

MV Prinses Beatrix

Ex HMS Prinses Beatrix, Prinses Beatrix

Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in 1939 by Koninklijke Maatschappij De Schelde, Vlissingen, Holland (Yard No. 210), for Stoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland N.V. Hook Van Holland, Holland as a passenger and cargo vessel.

Technical Data

  • Length: 115.82 m (overall) 106.77 m (between perpendiculars)
    Breadth: 14.38 m
    Depth: 8.53 m
    Draught: 7.57 (max) – 4.42 m
    Tonnage: 4135 – 4353 gross/2100 – 2188 net/750 – 850 – 2992 (at max draught)
    Engines: Two SA 10-cylinder De Schelde-Sulzer diesels.
    Power: kW/12,500 bhp
    Speed: 23 knots (max)
    Capacity: 1,800 passengers (day), 297 (night), 35 cars. 1,200 Passengers (1948)
    Crew: 58.
    Call Sign: PGVL
    ID Number: 5528532
    Number in Book (Lloyds Register 1949 – 50): 22693
    Official Number:
    Port of Registry: Hook of Holland
    Sister-Ship: Koningin Emma


December 1937: Ordered.

May 7th 1938: Keel struck.

March 25th 1939: Launched by Prins Bernhard.


🆕© Beeldbank, Vlissingen, courtesy of Gijsha

June 24th 1939: Sea trials.

July 3rd 1939: Delivered to Stoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland N.V. Hook Van Holland, Holland.


July 1939: Commenced service between Flushing – Harwich. Grey hull.

  © Beeldbank, Vlissingen

🆕© Beeldbank, Vlissingen, courtesy of Gijsha (Right)

September 3rd 1939: World War 2 declared.

© Beeldbank, Vlissingen

🆕© Beeldbank, Vlissingen

September 1939: Laid up in Flushing.

May 10th 1940: Moved to London.

May 12th 1940: Arrived in London.

May 29th 1940: Sailed from London to Plymouth.

June 2nd 1940: First of four crossings to Brest, repatriating French troops.

June 12th 1940: Left Plymouth and was at Le Havre to assist in the British evacuations and was then ordered to La Pallice on the French Atlantic coast.

June 21st 1940: Returned to Plymouth.

June 25th 1940: Milford Haven on stand-by to transport a Royal Marines brigade, should a troop movement to Ireland prove necessary.

August 20th 1940: Taken up as an assault ship. Ministry of War Transport U.K. Pennent L 4.44.

August 21st 1940: Left Milford Haven for Belfast. Her conversion was similar to that of her sister KONINGIN EMMA and she shared many operations with her sister.

September 1940: Rebuilt at Harland & Wolff, Belfast, as an assault landing ship.

January 21st 1941: Commissioned as H.M.S. PRINSES BEATRIX.

March 4th 1941: With her sister carried out the Lofoten Islands (Operation Claymore) raid and was assigned to the planned landing of troops in the Canary Islands. Much of her time during the first eight months of the year was devoted to Combined Operations training exercises in Scottish waters, mainly at Inveraray or Greenock, but also at Brodick (Arran), at the tiny island of Gigha and at Oban.

September 1941: In continuation of a plan to have assault ships available, should an invasion of the Atlantic Islands become necessary, was one of the fleet to leave the Clyde. As far as Gibraltar she was in convoy with ships due to fight their way through to Malta.

September 21st 1941: Involved in a minor collision with, one of the fleet, namely Alfred Holt’s AJAX. Both vessels were superficially damaged above the water-line and PRINSES BEATRIX was able to continue to Freetown (Sierra Leone).

October 5th 1941: Arrived Sierra Leone.

January 12th 1942: After three sailings to Bathurst in Gambia she made one trip to Takoradi in Gold Coast. Then she laid up in Freetown.

February 14th 1942: Left for the Clyde.

April 1942: With her sister , involved in Operation Myrmidon (raids on SW France).

August 18th 1942: Left Southampton as part of Group 2 (Operation Jubilee), like most of the other landing ships disguised as a cargo vessel. The disguise was taken down at nightfall and the ship headed for Dieppe.

August 19th 1942: Her craft were lowered to take her Canadian troops to Green Beach. At 03.30 hrs she made course for the Solent, but in the darkness she was rammed by INVICTA (III). She safely reached Southampton for repairs.

© Imperial War Museum “Invicta” (A10795)

October 26th 1942: Left the Clyde with US infantry on board as part of an armada converging on North Africa (Operation Torch).

November 8th 1942: Reached Oran. She continued to Algiers, then Bougie, at the start of a six month period of troop ferrying along the North African coast eastwards of Algiers.

November 30th 1942: Her guns were successful in bringing down an attacking torpedo bomber.

May 1943: By the end of the Tunisian campaign it was estimated that she had carried 15,700 troops on this duty and sailed 12,00 miles.

June 10th 1943: Joined her sister in Operation Corkscrew on the island of Pantellaria.


“En -route to Sicily” © Imperial War Museum (A 25723)(Left) (A18147)(Right)

July 8th 1943: Left Sfax (Tunisia) for Operation Husky, in which her troops were put ashore two days later in the Bark South area of Sicily.

August 16th 1943: Landed Commandos near Cape Scaletta.

September 6th 1943: Left Tripoli for Operation Avalanche, forming part of Northern Attack Force S.

September 9th 1943: Assault on the mainland of Italy at Salerno. Her next assignment was to carry reinforcements from Bizerta to Taranto.

December 13th 1943: Used to make a feint landing in the Gulf of Gaeta (north of Naples).

December 29th 1943: Actual Commando landing north of the Garigliano River.

January 8th 1944: Sent to Naples to the Combined Operations base at Djidjelli on the North African coast to collect landing craft.

January 21st 1944: Left Naples.

January 24th 1944: Operation Shingle landings at Anzio.

July 22nd 1944: Sailed into the Adriatic to land dock operational troops at the northerly Italian port of Ancona.

August 11th 1944: Operation Dragon (August 15th), left Naples as part of the Support Force to establish special service men ashore at Port Cros and the Levant Islands, ahead of the main assault.

August 28th 1944: Her Mediterranean service came to an end and she left Algiers for the Clyde, initially for the task of transporting minor landing craft between bases on the west coast of Britain.

December 15th 1944: Taken in hand at Meadow side (Clyde) for refit and preparation for service in the Far East.

April 17th 1945: Left the Clyde for Colombo.

May 12th 1945: Arrived Colombo where, in the first half of July, she was allocated the task of carrying troops to Madras from Akyab on the Arakan coast to Burma.

August 17th 1945: With her sister assigned to Operation Jurist, sailing from Trincomalee as part of Force 11.

August 28th 1945: Reached Penang Roads.

September 3rd 1945: Went alongside to enable a party of seamen and Marines formally to hoist the Union flag.

September 4th 1945: Set out for Rangoon, then carried her Marines from Penang to Sabang in western Sumatra.

September 14th 1945: With her sister arrived in Sabang.

September 24th 1945: Damaged by a French destroyer at Trincomalee.

September 27th 1945: Departed Sabang with French servicemen for Saigon then Singapore.

November 1st 1945: Set out on the first of two voyages to take troops to Surabaya in eastern Java.

January 18th 1946: Departed Singapore for Portsmouth.

February 15th 1946: Arrived Portsmouth.

April 13/14th 1946: Paid off and returned to her owners in Flushing to be re-converted to a passenger ferry. Renamed PRINSES BEATRIX.

© Beeldbank, Vlissingen

🆕© Beeldbank, Vlissingen, courtesy of Gijsha (Flushing, April 1946)

August 7th 1946 – September 1946: Chartered by the Dutch Government for service between Rotterdam – Harwich.

© Beeldbank, Vlissingen

🆕© Beeldbank, Vlissingen, courtesy of Gijsha

May 29th 1948: Sea trials.

May 31st 1948: Maiden voyage between Hook Van Holland – Harwich.


© Bob Scott  

© Bob Scott (Hook of Holland, 06/07/1968)(Left)

September/October 1968: Laid up in Schiedam.

December 19th 1968: Towed to Antwerp and broken up by Jos De Smedt.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Gijsha and Bob Scott for their assistance in producing this feature.

Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)


  1. Thank you very much .
    Very interesting history of her .
    Best regards
    Tim Kilian

  2. Hi, thanks for posting this history of the MS Prinses Beatrix. My father, Leunis Faase was the ship’s carpenter (“chippy”) for the first few years of World War Two. I believe until May 1943, and then from 1946 until 1968.

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