ROTTERDAM - In a fire on a navy lodging ship in the port of Rotterdam (Heijplaat) At least eight people were killed. The number may be even higher. One body has been salvaged. The hope that seven others will still be found alive is rather small. In addition, several people are also missing. Retrofitting is still ongoing.

Eleven people were injured in the fire. Three of them have been transferred to Dijkzigt Hospital.

Some of the people on board have managed to get to safety. A tugboat has also taken some of the people off the yard.

Salvation impossible

The fire on board the ship spread very quickly. A few minutes after a fire watch from a nearby tanker saw the first flames, the entire hotel ship was ablaze.

The fire was so bad, that firefighters themselves could not look for survivors. Only after the fire was slightly extinguished, experts have looked around the ship. They said that there was a very good chance that the missing were no longer alive.


On board the ship Mr.. the Jan Elshout at the RDM site has been a party. Possibly there were also people present who did not stay on the ship.

"It was in the nick of time", left G. Know French to Het Vrije Volk. He was one of the people who stayed on board the ship. "We had just left the emergency exit and jumped on the tugboat or the flames shot up behind us."

“Then we were on deck in underpants. The ship howled and all the people screamed. ”

(G. French, Het Vrije Volk, 11-02-1971)

Another crew member describes the terrible situation. “We had just been in bed for an hour, when it started. Suddenly we saw nothing more. There was smoke everywhere, screams and shouts everywhere. We jumped out of bed, but could no longer find the emergency exit due to the smoke. Three times we had to go back to our cabin to get some air and try again. The third time it worked. It was a horror, I've never felt such a panic before. ”

"That people have come out here is a wonder of God", a member of the RDM clearance team told Het Vrije Volk. "The panic that has arisen within that must have been indescribable."


In the meantime, the telephone is ringing off the hook at the RDM and the navy. Many family members want to know if their son or relative is okay.

On board the Mr.. Jan Elshout stayed as civilian personnel of the navy. The ship is a chartered cruise ship. People on board were responsible for the routine maintenance of the cruiser Zeven Provinciën.

Hoe ging het verder?

Ultimately eight people were killed in the fire. This makes it still one of the largest fires (in terms of number of victims) in Rotterdam and the surrounding area since the Second World War.

How the fire started is still unclear. There was a party going on on board.

The ship was eventually sold, largely demolished and rebuilt. The ship is still sailing, under the name Liberty Anne, across the Rhine and has Arnhem as its home port.


Het Vrije Volk – 11-02-1971 – "The ship howled and the people screamed’

RDM Archive – 1971 – Disaster at the RDM