FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

TS Jan Breydel – Past and Present

TS Tourist

Ex Jan Breydel

Steel triple screw turbine steamer, built by Cockerill’s of Hoboken (Yard No.493) for the Belgian State Railway’s Ostend service in 1910.

Technical Data

  • Length: 108.81 m (overall) m (between perpendiculars)
    Breadth: 12.90 m
    Depth: 7.07 m
    Draught: 2.90 m
    Tonnage: 1767 gross/1254 net/837 deadweight
    Engines: 1 HP and 2 LP direct driver Parsons steam turbines
    Power: 7500 kW/HP
    Speed: 24.28 knots (Trials in the Scheldt), 24.9 knots (Trials in the Clyde)
    Capacity: 1,100 passengers
    Call Sign: GQDH
    ID Number: 5607855
    Lloyds Register Number (1931 – 32): 24568
    Official Number:
    Port of Registry: Ostend/Belgium
    Sister-Ship: Pieter De Coninck


January 1909: Launched.

The sisters were distinguished by vertical markers on the forward mast (starboard side ); PIETER DE CONINCK  2 and JAN BREYDEL 3.

April 1910: Initial trials in the Scheldt she reached 24.15 knots. Then reached 24.28 knots.

Courtesy of John Hendy

Courtesy of John Hendy (Trials)

April 12th 1910: Further trials over the “Measured Mile” in the Clyde speed raised to 24.9 knots.

May 7th 1909: Maiden voyage to Dover.


The wartime history of both her, and her sister was similar, mostly that of transporting wounded soldiers.

July 19th 1910: The Lord Mayor of London (Sir John Knill) accompanied by Lady Knill and the Sheriffs of the city and their wives crossed from Dover to Belgium, where they made a civic visit to Antwerp. Afterwards they ravelled to Brussels.

November 23rd 1911: In strong winds collided with the gantries used for the widening of the Admiralty Pier. She became fixed between the pier and the staging. Freed with the assistance of the Harbour Board tug LADY CRUNDALL. She received damage to her superstructure and was able to continue service.


April 12th 1913: Off Dover in a severe gale, lost her fore rudder.

August 1st 1914: The day of mobilisation for the Great War, she was ordered to Antwerp

August 11th 1914: Left Ostend for to Antwerp.

August 1914: Returned to Ostend and resumed passenger service to Folkestone.

August 20th 1914: Antwerp.

August 31st 1914: With part of the countries gold reserve took Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians and her children to Dover. Remained in Dover.

September 7th 1914: Returned to Antwerp.

October 6th 1914: Took most of the Belgian diplomatic corps from Antwerp to Ostend and later to Le Havre.

October 10th 1914  – October 14th 1914: Took part in the evacuation of Ostend.

October 17th 1914: Arrived in Le Havre.

October 18th 1914 – March 30th 1915: Transported 89284 wounded and 37626 soldiers to France and England.

© IWM (Q 18820)

© IWM (Q 18820)

April 1915: Deployed as a stationary Hospital Ship in Calais.

August 21 st  1915 – August 1st 1919: Hospital Ship service. At the disposition of the Admiralty she made 798 voyages until 31 December 1918. In all she transported 18,133 wounded and 16,841 troops.

Courtesy of Arne Pyson  Courtesy of John Hendy

Courtesy of Arne Pyson (Left) Courtesy of John Hendy (Right)

(The hospital ship Jan Breydel arriving at Dover from Boulogne with Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig and other British army generals, soon after the end of the First World War. Date 19th December 1918)

“The distinguished Field-marshal crossed aboard the Belgian hospital ship Jan Breydel, which was escorted by three destroyers. Well out at sea the Jan Breydel was met by six coastal motor-boats and many seaplanes and aeroplanes.

In choosing the ancient port of Dover for his first landing since the armistice was signed he followed the example of those other illustrious soldiers – Kitchener (who first touched English soil here after Khartoum) and Roberts (returning from the South African war).

As the Jan Breydel drew alongside the Admiralty pier Sir Douglas Haig was seen on the bridge, standing next to Vice-admiral Sir Roger Keyes (who directed the Zeebrugge raid), and surrounded by his generals.

Distinguished naval officers received Sir Douglas at the landing stage.

Guards of honour of the seamen from the monitors and of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, with bands, were mounted.”.

January 1st 1919 – June 1919: Assisted with the repatriation of British troops.

July 1919: Refitted in England

August 2nd 1919: Handed back and returned to her normal, peacetime, service.

Courtesy of John Hendy  Courtesy of John Hendy

Courtesy of John Hendy

September 24th 1921: “Three miles off the South Goodwin Lightship and in dense fog, collided with the Norwegian steamer SALINA. The Norwegian steamer was struck on her port bow and was so seriously damaged that the vessel sank in three minutes, the boilers blowing up at the same time. The crew of 22 and the captain’s wife and two you children, were thrown into the water. The JAN BREYDEL, which had 292 passengers on board received very little damage and her safety was never at risk. The Belgian mail-boat at once lowered three boats and rescued all of those who could be found”.


Courtesy of John Hendy

Courtesy of John Hendy

1930: Funnel cowls removed, tops painted black, promenade decks plated with windows.

Courtesy of John Hendy

Courtesy of John Hendy

1931: Offered “For Sale” which received a bid of 252,000 fr.

November 4th 1931:  She was withdrawn and then sold for 320,00 fr to Victor de H.Slama based in Tunisia.

January 1932: Sold for proposed North African coastal service, being renamed TOURIST. She underwent a million franc conversion, but her new owner defaulted and she was seized by creditors. She laid in Antwerp for a further two years.

1933: Sold to Ghent ship breakers.

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: Arne Pyson and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

Sincere thanks to Urbain Ureel.

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

Special thanks to John Hendy

Articles: British Newspaper Archives


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