SLOTERDIJK was a modern twin-screw motor cargo ship of 9 230 GRT completed in early 1940 for the Holland America Line. At the time of her building she was identified for possible conversion to an armed merchant cruiser. (see the Armed Merchant Cruiser section on this site) and provision was made for strengthening of her decks where guns were to be placed.
Very little is known of her wartime career but for the following: On Saturday 23rd of March 1940, SLOTERDIJK was sighted westbound in the North Atlantic, South of Iceland (War Diary, 18th Cruiser Squadron, RN), on what was probably her maiden voyage to New York. The Straits Times of Singapore reported during March 1940 that SLOTERDIJK and her sister SOMMELSDIJK were to be employed on the Java-New York line via the Cape of Good Hope (the Suez Canal/Mediterranean route was no longer an option) with scheduled stops at Singapore.
SLOTERDIJK was probably still on this run when she made her final voyage to the NEI with 10 Brewster 339-23 Buffalos and 7 Curtiss Wright CW-22B Falcons aboard. Since both aircraft manufacturers were situated in the vicinity of New York, I suspect that the planes were loaded there and she sailed directly to the NEI with a likely stopover at Cape Town. I've read somewhere that SLOTERDIJK was at some point under the control of the British Ministry of War Transport before being taken over by the (US) War Shipping Administration but that was probably only for a short period around mid-1942. Prior to her being taken over by WSA there is no mention of SLOTERDIJK in any convoy - she always sailed independently.
According to Peter Boer's "The Story of the Douglas DB-7", she was in port at Tjilitjap on 1 March 1942 and off-loaded ammunition but not the aircraft. With TJIBESAR and TABIAN, SLOTERDIJK departed for Albany, Australia on the 2nd or 3rd where the trio arrived safely later that month. However, the date of her being in Tjilitjap on the 1st is somewhat contradicted by the following report from the RAN website which states:
"At 1252 on 1 March Bendigo entered Tjilatjap Harbour. Shortly afterwards she was ordered to proceed to sea in company with Burnie to search for the Dutch ship Sloter-Dijk, which had been reported attacked by a Japanese submarine. Unable to locate the merchant ship Bendigo returned to harbour."
Here is a photo of M.S. SLOTERDIJK during the war years (in USN Measure 14 camouflage?)
And repainted in her HAL colours just after WW2 but still with gun tub (no gun) visible forward and a large number of stacked life rafts.
And lastly,with a fresh coat of paint, the gun tubs removed but the rafts still in place, at the time in the service of the Dutch government for transporting military personnel to the NEI.
She reverted back to HAL service in 1948 and was finally scrapped in 1966. Can anyone explain why her name was changed to SLOTERDYK with a "Y"?