RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE                                                                                                                                                                                                             M.S. VICTORIA 1952

The Italian tradition of luxury and style at sea was never so fully realised as it was with its postwar fleet of liners. Though its fleet had been virtually destroyed by the ravages of war, Lloyd Triestino made a great effort to rise from those ruins, and thus were produced some of the finest, stylish, elegant, graceful and most beautiful vessels to ever sail the oceans of the world.

Design and Construction (1950 - 1953):

The Victoria was the last Trieste-built liner, she was the last active example of the classic passenger cargo liner. She was built as the Victoria for Lloyd Triestino's Italy to Hong Kong service. She carried 286 first and 181 tourist class passengers, had five cargo holds, and was driven by CRDA Fiat diesels capable of 16,100 BHP to drive twin screws at a speed of 19.5 knots. The Victoria was completed by the San Marco (near Trieste) yard of Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico in March of 1953.

They were some of the most stylish and elegant small passenger liners built during the 1950s. The Victoria had especially stylish and modern interiors, courtesy of the brilliant architect and designer, Gustavo Pulitzer-Finale. Lustrous veneers, carved panels by Marangoni depicting ancient Venice, sculptures by Mascherini, etched glass panels, midcentury modern light fixtures and furnishings, acres of linoleum and a sweeping three deck high first class stairtower with glass insets were at once Italian and cutting edge features. Both ships also boasted full air conditioning years before it became a standard feature in passenger shipping. The Victoria and Asia in turn were part of a series of seven almost identical ships buit for Lloyd Triestino:
  • Australia, Oceania and Neptunia all entered into service in 1951 and operated the Australian service.
  • Africa and Europa entered into service in 1952 and operated the African service.
  • Asia and Victoria entered into service in 1953 and served on the Asian service.
All this series of ships had typically modern, sculpted Italian lines, which included sharply raked bows, lusciously curved superstructures, tripod masts, streamlined and low funnels, terraced afterdecks with a pool and lido for both classes and graciously curved cruiser spoon sterns. It was the "Golden Age" of the combi-liner, and the Victoria and her sister Asia were among the most beautiful of their type ever built.

Lloyd Triestino Line era (1953 - 1974):

After completion, the Victoria entered service with Lloyd Triestino in 1953 and sailed on the "Asian service" linking Italy to India and the Far East via the Suez Canal. After the Suez Canal was closed due to the 6-day war in 1967, the Victoria and Asia travelled via the Cape of Good Hope to India.

Adriatica Line era (1974 - 1977):

In 1974 Lloyd Triestino retired the Victoria from service and she was transferred to Adriatica Line to join the Ausonia on services in the Mediterranean from Italy to Beirut and cruises. She continued in this role until 1977 when she was retired from service.

Mercy Ships Years (1978 - 2007):

In Autumn 1977 Adriatica Line retired the Victoria from service. In 1978, a team led by Don and Deyon Stephens (founders of Mercy Ships) began the process of finding a suitable vessel to fulfil their dream of a hospital ship that would reach out to the world's poorest people. On the 7th July 1978, this dream became a reality. The first Mercy Ship, a retired ocean liner called Victoria, was purchased for £600,000. Don and Deyon began recruiting crew for the ship and raising funds to bring the Mercy Ship into compliance with international standards. Ongoing efforts over four years resulted in the transformation of the passenger vessel into a hospital ship. With the addition of 3 operating theatres and a 40 bed ward, the vessel became an 11,701 tonne floating hospital, carrying a volunteer crew of 350 from all over the world. In 1982, the vessel sailed as the newly christened Anastasis –- the first Mercy Ship. Since then, various ships in the Mercy Ships fleet have served in more than 150 ports in developing nations around the world, bringing lasting change to hundred of thousands of lives.

As the Anastasis, she has performed a great role for Mercy Ships and her legacy lives on. Over her 29 year career with Mercy Ships, the Anastasis contributed more than half of Mercy Ships total output in terms of number of services, value and beneficiaries. An average of 350 crew from more than 30 nations lived and worked onboard. The former passenger liner was modified to contain three fully-equipped operating rooms, a hospital ward, a dental clinic, a laboratory, an X-ray unit, three cargo holds and accommodation for 420 crew. She carried a fleet of over 20 vehicles for onshore work. Since 1978, the Anastasis has performed more than 1,000,000 services, at a total value today of over £162 million with an estimated 1.5 million people as direct beneficiaries.
  • Performed more than 18,000 surgeries such as cleft lip and palate, cataract removal, straightening of crossed-eyes, orthopaedic and facial reconstruction. 
  • Treated more than 88,700 people in village medical clinics.
  • Performed more then 133,000 dental treatments.
  • Taught more than 3,900 local health care and professional workers, who have in turn trained many others in primary health care.
  • Taught more than 55,300 local people in primary health care.
  • Trained local medical professionals in modern health care techniques to carry on after the ship’s departure.
  • Completed more than 520 construction and agriculture projects including schools, clinics, orphanages and water wells.
The Anastasis has visited 275 total ports, and conducted 66 field assignments in 23 nations: Guatemala, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Poland, Togo, Ghana, Estonia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Lithuania, Senegal, Latvia, South Africa, Madagascar, Benin, Gambia and Liberia. An estimated 25,000 volunteer crew members served on the Anastasis. Over 250 couples met as crew, and several weddings were held onboard, including one at sea.

She was sold by Mercy Ships and arrived on the 18th August 2007 at Alang, India for scrapping By this time she was the last survivor of Lloyd Triestino's elegance postwar fleet of ocean liners from the 1950s. It was the end of an era.

Howeer the Anastasis has left a remarkable legacy during her years as the flagship of Mercy Ships and served a very useful purpose. We salute the Anastasis (former Victoria). Your legacy lives on with the Mercy Ships fleet.


(c) The AJN Transport Britain Collection 2008                                                                                                                                                                                 A Edward Elliott