Operation Mobilization’s 1914-built missionary ship Doulos has well outlived her grander, more famous contemporaries. She began her career as Mallory Steamship Company’s modest cargo ship Medina on the US East Coast-Gulf of Mexico service. Her power plant consisted of four coal-fired boilers and a triple expansion steam engine that gave her a speed of 14 knots. Medina survived both world wars and was sold to Cia San Miguel, S.A. in 1948 and rebuilt as the spartan Roma for Australian immigrant service. Her passenger capacity accommodated 287 in first and 694 in tourist class. She was given a new bow and funnel, and her superstructure considerably enlarged, resulting in a gross tonnage of 6,549.
In 1952, Roma was purchased by Costa Line and completely rebuilt, becoming its stylish cruise ship Franca C. A far cry from the austere immigrant ship, she emerged with modern accommodations for 820 in first, tourist, and third (dormitory) class. Franca C served Costa’s Italy-South America run until 1959, when she was converted into a full time cruise ship. With a new gross tonnage of 6,822, she was given a new capacity of 552 passengers in one class. In 1970, the aging ship was further re engined, sailing in Mediterranean service until 1977.
Franca C was spared the breakers for yet another career as the Christian missionary ship Doulos (Greek for “servant”) in 1993 for Operation Mobilization and was refitted with new diesel alternators and an electrical main switchboard, which should keep her sailing well into the 21st Century. Her lobby and pool are now home to a book shop, and most of her Costa accommodation has been rebuilt, but her profile is still that of a classic liner.