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Originally launched as the cargo ship Medina, the vessel was one of a pair ordered by the Mallory Steamship Company from the Newport News yard in Virginia.

Of 421ft loa and 5,426grt, the ship was originally powered by a single, triple-expansion engine rated at 4,100shp and had a top speed of 14 knots. The vessel mainly transported fruits and vegetables between Galveston and New York.

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The Medina was used as a US military supply ship during the First World War and served as the Commodore's flagship in a convoy to Europe in August 1918, before returning to the Mallory Steamship Company at the end of the conflict.

The ship was modified to burn oil in 1922. The Medina spent a while under charter to the Cuba Mail Line running between New York and the Caribbean in the mid-1930s.

In 1948 a Panamanian company, Cia Naviera San Miguel SA, acquired the SS MEDINA.
The following year she was converted to a migrant ship at La Spezia, Italy and renamed SS ROMA. 
In 1950, a Roman Catholic Holy Year, she was employed in transporting pilgrims to Rome. 
She then made a number of emigrant voyages to Australia, however, she does not appear to have been very successful in this latter role and was soon laid up and offered for sale.

After purchase by Costa Line in 1952 and renamed Franca C, it was equipped with a diesel engine in place of the original steam engine. The Franca C was refitted as a one-class cruiseship in 1959 operating Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises until 1977.

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After being purchased by Gute Bucher fur Alle (Good Books for All), the Doulos was converted at a yard in Bremen to operate as a Christian mission vessel, claiming to be the world's largest floating library.

Renamed Doulos and now operating as a floating library, the vessel covered more than 358,000nm between 1978 and 2010. The ship was operated by volunteer crew members and visited more than 100 countries and 297 ports around the world, selling more than 1.5 million books and welcoming almost 21.5 million people onboard.

In 2009 – soon after being described as being 'held together by rust, paint and the faith of those who sail in her' – a classification society survey showed that more than €10 million would have to be spent to ensure compliance with the 2010 SOLAS Convention requirements and the decision was taken to retire the vessel at the end of the year.

After being purchased by a Singapore-based businessman and renamed Doulos Phos, the ship was modified to operate as a luxury hotel on the island of Bintan, Indonesia.

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