THE JEWISH CHRONICLE
Article by Toby Axelrod, January 22, 2015
Should the world’s largest ship be named after a convicted Nazi war criminal? No, says retired British businessman John Donovan – and he’s not sitting idly by.
The Colchester resident has launched an online petition asking shipping magnate Edward Heerema of the Allseas Group SA to change the name of its giant new vessel, the Pieter Schelte.
Schelte was Mr Heereema’s father, a renowned maritime engineer but also an avowed antisemite who joined the Waffen SS. He eventually became an informant for the Dutch resistance in 1943.
After the war, he was sentenced in Holland to three years in prison for war crimes, but was released early due to his work for the resistance.
In 2008, when plans to name the boat after him became known in Holland, politicians and Jewish leaders spoke out against it. A spokesperson for Allseas said at the time: “Pieter Schelte Hereema was widely appreciated in the industry during his life and the companies that came from his heritage have an excellent name in the offshore industry.”
The Dutch government, which gave Allseas’ Netherlands subsidiary a hefty tax break to secure it a role in building the ship, said it first noticed the vessel’s name in an article by Dutch journalist Ton Biesemaat.
Dutch legislator Sharon Gesthuizen told Haaretz in 2008 that “funding this ship was a mistake which is offensive to many people”.
Mr Donovan addressed his petition to Edward Heerema “as the founder of [a] company that… has just entered service in the offshore oil industry, with Shell as one of its first clients.”
Mr Donovan has long followed the activities of the Shell Oil Company, for which he and his late father worked as consultants before successfully suing the firm for breach of confidence. He said: “Shell is …the first customer booked to use the Pieter Schelte [to decommission four North Sea Oil rigs later this year].”
Allseas and Shell did not comment.