ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Jewish leaders in Britain and the Netherlands are outraged that a massive ship bearing the name of a Dutch Nazi war criminal arrived in Rotterdam to work in the European offshore oil industry.
The Pieter Schelte, called the world's biggest vessel, arrived in port as Jewish organizations asked the ship's owners to change the name. Jewish leaders said the recent terrorist attack at a Paris kosher deli that left four dead and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is making the decision to name the ship after the war criminal all the more difficult to understand.
Esther Voet, director of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel, told the Guardian the timing was "a coincidence, I'm sure, but a sign of the times. We lost our battle to have the ship's name changed, and we are left eating dust."
Schelte, a Dutch naval architect, was part of the Waffen SS, the combat arm of the Nazi party's Schutzstaffel. He was arrested in March 1944 and tried for war crimes. He died in 1981. The ship belongs to the Swiss-based Allseas group, which is owned by Schelte's son, Edward Heerema. The company said it does not plan to rename the ship.
The Pieter Schelte, a platform installation, decommissioning and pipe-laying vessel, is 1,565 feet long and has a lift capacity of 48,000 tons. The ship was built in South Korea.