The Development of Crude Oil Tankers. A Historical Miscellany

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Dr. Ray Solly
Other Publication Information
11x8.4 in., 192 pages, Hardbound with full color jacket, 212 color & black and white illustrations & diagrams
Company: Pen & Sword - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

Casemate Publishers presents The Development of Crude Oil Tankers. A Historical Miscellany by Dr. Ray Solly. This book is a large hardbound with glossy pages chock full of photographs, detailed line drawings, and explanations of how tanker design progressed to the present day. Our current lifestyles and national security depend on these ships, so learning more about them is a joy. Learn why supertankers are the safest and most regulated form of transportation in the world.

The author, Dr. Ray Solly, started as a Navigation Officer in the Merchant Marine, including supertankers. His hobby was coasters, smaller tankers dispersing oil and petroleum goods to smaller markets. Dr. Solly was a schoolmaster for twenty years, and lately is a marine author of non-fiction books and many articles.

What You Get

This elegant book is a hefty 11 X 8.375 inches with 192 pages, and a glossy color jacket. The title is on the spine in case the jacket gets lost. I stopped counting at 212 photographs and 34 line drawings. Turns out that transporting crude oil and its products is fraught with perils, which were learned the hard way at first. World Wars also introduced further safety features, and the oil boom post-WW2 accelerated the demand for oil and growth of tankers into floating oil fields today.

The evolution of supertankers is more than just building bigger ships, and Dr. Solly points out the merging of sciences to make transport safer and ships less damage-prone. The Exxon Valdez incident in 1989 led to swift changes in regulation of tankers and new double-hulled ships were asea by 1993. The regulatory side of shipping oil is seldom recognized or even known, but was dead serious about making tankers safe and reliable. Considering the amount of combustible material moved around the globe, the present safety record is admirable. Dr. Solly enlightens the reader on all the behind-the-scenes changes that had tankers survive missile hits and other groundings with minimal damage and leakage.

The last section of the book is the author’s experiences sailing smaller tankers in the North Sea, which gives an I-was-there touch to the book. One fun fact I learned was to use to see exactly where these giants are in real time.

Contents include:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Timeline
  • Introduction
  • Part One: Early Crude Oil and Product Carriers
    • Chapter 1 Beginnings: A Need for Oil Tankers
    • Chapter 2 Innovative Designs
    • Chapter 3 A Significant Breakthrough
    • Chapter 4 Winds of Change
    • Chapter 5 Post Second World War Developments
  • Part Two: The Single-Hulled ‘Supertanker’ VLCC
    • Chapter 6 The Emerging Vessel
  • Part Three: The ULCC Generation
    • Chapter 7 The Bigger They Come...\
    • Chapter 8 A Unique Ship: Jahre Viking
  • Part Four: The Double-Hulled ‘Supertanker’ VLCC
    • Chapter 9 The Prototype: Arosa
    • Chapter 10 Continued Progression
  • Part Five: Transporting North Sea Oil
    • Chapter 11 Anna Knutsen and British Ensign
  • Conclusion
  • Ship Index
  • General Index
  • Summary

This encyclopedic book is large, but the text reads fast because photos and drawings take up most of each page. It is not a catalog of every tanker, but comes close, and devotes attention to the inner workings of ships and agencies and governments that quietly worked to ensure we keep our lights on at home. I have to admit this book was a lot more fun to read than I expected, and it really puts you inside the minds of designers and builders confronting literary massive problems. Being a “Historical Miscellany” means the author picked and chose what to present to the reader, and I wanted more. I hope other books fleshing out this topic will ensure. Also, the lack of models of supertankers is an itch that would be scratched by many a modeler, and this book would be a prime reference, although 1/700 scale would be big enough, and you would need a new room for a 1/350, 1/400 or 1/200 scales supertanker (and limitless funds).

Thanks to IPMSUSA for the privilege of reviewing this superb reference for oil tankers!

Reviewer Bio

Luke R. Bucci, PhD

Luke built all kinds of models starting in the early '60s, but school, wife Naniece, and work (PhD Clinical Nutritionist) caused the usual absence from building. Picked up modeling to decompress from grad school, joined IPMSUSA in 1994 and focused on solely 1/700 warships (waterline!) and still do. I like to upgrade and kitbash the old kits and semi-accurize them, and even scratchbuild a few. Joined the Reviewer Corps to expand my horizon, especially the books nobody wants to review - have learned a lot that way. Shout out to Salt Lake and Reno IPMSUSA clubs - they're both fine, fun groups and better modelers than I, which is another way to learn. Other hobbies are: yes, dear; playing electric bass and playing with the canine kids.

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