Celebrating Christmas on the Largest Ship in the World

This past December 26, members of the seafarers’ welfare community in Rotterdam spent a memorable day aboard the largest ship in the world, the Pioneering Spirit.  Owned by the Allseas company, the Pioneering Spirit is designed for the single-lift installation and removal of large oil and gas platforms or installation of record-weight pipelines.

casco-3The idea to board the Pioneering Spirit came from George van Ede, participant in the Rotterdam welfare organization for seafarers C.A.S.C.O.  Before retirement, he had been a nautical advisor in the port, supervising many new infrastructure projects in Europoort and Massvlakte.  Over the years, he had become friends with many of the large shipping companies.   At retirement, he joined the board of C.A.S.C.O. and began to help out with the work of seafarers’ welfare.

Having friends in these companies, van Ede has helped C.A.S.C.O. receive some small electronic gadgets, hats, and the like each of the last several Christmases to give to the visiting seafarers. However, this Christmas was different: besides giving gifts, Pioneering Spirit’s Captain Alfred Regtop contacted him to see if he could organize a very special Christmas celebration aboard the vessel.

dsc03392Van Ede reached out to an Apostleship of the Sea priest of Filipino origin, Father Roy in Leuven, Belgium who organized mass.  They were joined by Nederlandse Zeemanscentrale Chaplain Helene Perfors and also Nico Sannes, a former colleague of van Ede’s.

When they arrived at the ship, a wonderful group had gathered for the celebration.

casco-9The group had a great time, including a meeting with the ship’s current captain, Loek Fernengel, who had command of the ship while Capt. Regtop was home for Christmas with his family in Spain.

Van Ede hopes to visit the Pioneering Spirit at least once more before it leaves on its next trip.

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By Jason Zuidema.  Thanks to George van Ede (C.A.S.C.O.) and Nico Sannes for sharing this story and photos.