THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — A Dutch ship that sparked controversy because it was named after a Nazi will have its name changed, its owner said.
The change was announced on Friday by Allseas, the shipping giant that built and named the Pieter Schelte for a prominent Nazi industrialist and Waffen-SS officer.
“As a result of the widespread reactions which have emerged over the last few days, Edward Heerema, president of the Allseas Group, has announced that the name of the vessel ‘Pieter Schelte’ will be changed,” Allseas said in a statement. “It has never been the intention to offend anyone. The new name will be announced within a few days.”
Edward Heerema is the son of the late Pieter Schelte.
The ship’s arrival in Rotterdam last month prompted a new wave of protests against Allseas, which has been resisting calls to change the ship’s name since before the vessel was built.
Also facing criticism was Royal Dutch Shell, which proceeded despite protests with plans to use the ship – the world’s largest crane vessels of its kind. The Dutch government was also forced to explain why it offered Allseas over $1 million in subsidies to build the ship.
“In the end, I believe it was external pressure and particularly the threat of losing money that moved the company to this decision,” said Ton Biesemaat, an investigative journalist from The Hague who exposed the affair and has been fighting Allseas for years.
“Honestly, I already had given up hope of effecting change against what was a scandalous situation, but I am very happy to see this collective effort finally bear fruit.”