The passing of Captain Jan
But then, cruelly, fate took a hand. Having
directed the business from his sickbed for quite some time, Jan
Wijsmuller died on February 25, 1923, at the age of 46. His passing had a devastating
effect, not only on the company he had built up with such courage, imagination and
perseverance over a few short years, but also on Dutch ocean towage ingeneral. Bureau
Wijsmuller, as he had named his company, had lost its driving power and his wife was left
with six children - one daughter and five sons - ranging in age from 3 to 12. Helped by
those who had worked closely with her husband, she tried to carry on the business as
before. She had some successes.
For example, in the years 1924/1925 the tugs "Willembarendsz" and "Vlaanderen" performed a remarkable voyage. These tugs towed a drydock from IJmuiden to Sabang, Sumatra, picked up a dredger in Surabaia for Melbourne and brought the burn-out "City Of Singapore" back from Adelaide to Rotterdam. Upon his return, the leader of these transports, Captain Dirk Moerman, was decorated by H.M. the Queen.
The 'Sabang dry dock in tow by the tugs "Vlaanderen" and "Willem Barendsz"
leaving IJmuiden in 1924
The steam tug "Willem Barendsz" built 1921, gross tons 515, 1000 hp.
In 1927 sold to L. Smit & co's Internationale Sleepdienst. In 1952
grounded near Hook of Holland and lost.
The steam tug "Vlaanderen" built 1923, 289 gross tons, 525 hp.
In 1933 sold to England; in 1948 to Indonesia
In February 1927 the tugs"Brabant", "Drente" and "Vlaanderen" were
involved in the towage of a lock-door from Rotterdam to IJmuiden
In total, four Wijsmuller tugs were involved in the salvage of the s.s. "Eugenia",
which ran aground on the Dutch coast in November 1928. The ship was refloated
on August 4, 1929.
But the economy turned down and also the banks changed their policy after Jan Wijsmuller's dead and were calling in their loans for building vessels. It took them until1927 to take the four best tugs of Wijsmuller and sell them to the company's biggest competitors. Almost everything had to be sold, even some of the family's private possessions. In 1930, having once moved from Baarn to The Hague for a time, the head office was relocated in IJmuiden, where it has remained ever since. By the end of 1935 the business seemed likely to flounder. The fleet by then comprized just two oceangoing tugs, the "Drente" and "Utrecht", and four coastal tugs, the "Hector"(II), "Stentor"(I) "Nestor"(ex "Hercules") and "Junior"(I)
The steam tug "Nestor"(I), built in 1919, 153 gross tons, 550 hp. In 1959 sold to Persian Gulf
The steam tug "Hector"(II) built in 1921, 175 gross tons, 600 hp. In 1957 sold to Italy.
The steam tug "Stentor"(I), built 1921, 175 gross tons, 600 hp. In 1957 sold to Italy
The steam tug "Junior"(I), built 1921, 52 gross tons, 200 h.p. sold in 1945 to ??
That same year the "Drente"was lost during the salvage operation of the s.s."Kerkplein", stranded on the Dutch coast. This blow resulted in the shares and management of the company passing from the family into the hands of Messrs. Goedkoop in 1936.