Despite much research, the origins of GONCA (which means “Rosebud”) are shrouded in mystery. She was built in a Northern European shipyard probably between 1907 and 1909. Identification marks showed that she had an engine manufactured in Britain. Turkish naval historians, referring to Ottoman naval records, believe that she might have served as a support vessel in the port of Thessaloniki, Greece.
During World War I, she was appropriated by the Ottoman Navy and converted into a minelayer. She saw active service and survived the battle of the Dardanelles. After the war she was laid up at the naval base of Golcuk. It was in 1927 that she acquired her present name and was then used by the navy of the Turkish Republic as a transport ship. In 1989 GONCA was de-commissioned but saved from scrapping by the Rahmi M. Koç Museum Foundation. GONCA’s refit commenced in Tuzla (Istanbul) in 1993 to prepare her as a luxury yacht. The works have involved an almost complete rebuild and she is now fitted out in the Edwardian style with beautifully crafted joinery from Turkey and England. The technical project has been conceived by Camper & Nicholson with interior by Ken Freivokh Design.
The restoration, completed in 1997, complies with international safety standards and GONCA is now a perfect travelling base to appreciate the enigma that is Turkey and can be seen afloat at the Rahmi M. Koç Museum of Istanbul (www.rmk-museum.org.tr).
Displacement: 247 tonnes
Length: 32.98 m
Width: 6.00 m
Draft: 3.25 m
Engine: triple-expansion steam-original
Boiler: Scotch type fire tube-new
Power: 550 HP