Steve's Guide To Vessel Types.


Tankers are designed to carry liquid cargoes (not just oil) although the carriage of crude oil has brought the tanker unwelcome attention and largely unjustified criticism. Oil tankers come in two basic flavours, the crude carrier, which carries crude oil, and the clean products tanker, which carries the refined products, such as petrol, gasolene, aviation fuel, kerosene and paraffin. Tankers range in all sizes, from the small bunkering tanker (used for refuelling larger vessels) of 1000 DWT tons to the real giants: the VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) of between 2-300,000 DWT and the ULCC (Ultra Large Crude Carrier) of over 300,000 DWT

HANDYSIZE TANKER = 20,000 - 30,000 DWT

HANDYMAX TANKER = approx 45,000 DWT

PANAMAX TANKER = approx 79,000 DWT

AFRAMAX TANKER = between 79,000 - 120,000 DWT

SUEZMAX TANKER = between 120,000 - 180,000 DWT

V.L.C.C. TANKER = between 200,000 - 300,000 DWT

U.L.C.C. TANKER = over 300,000 DWT

It should be remembered that over 60% of the world's oil is transported by these tankers, and over 99% of that arrives safely without causing pollution. Indeed most oil pollution seen on beaches comes from the engine rooms of vessels (of all types) and not from the cargo tanks of tankers.

To ensure that oil tankers transport to all parts of the world, and not just the affluent western countries where freight rates might be expected to be higher, (and therefore tankers congregate), there is a system called WORLDSCALE, which ensures that net freight earnings for tanker owners are the same, regardless of length of voyage and varying costs (such as bunkers and port dues), so that a tanker will earn (net) as much per day on a route that is long and arduous as they will on a short and low cost voyage. This ensures that tankers take their goods to all parts of the world and don't just concentrate on the lucrative Middle East to Western Europe or USA routes.







Those who would criticise the marine Tanker industry would do well consider walking to work in the morning, to an unheated office, with no power for computers, lights or communications. We have a lot to thank the tanker industry for, so don't knock it when you depend on it so much ! Increased regulation on the construction, maintenance and crew competence of tankers, such as under the Maritime Pollution Convention (MARPOL) and in the USA, the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA90) has required double hull tankers to be built (of questionable value, but of undoubted high cost!), the phasing out of single skinned tankers and COFRs (Certificates of Financial Responsibility), which demonstrate that the operator has the financial backing, should a pollution event occur, to pay for the necessary clean-up.

In the "real world" (i.e outside of the USA) international agreements such as the CLC and Fund Conventions have provided clear levels of compensation that the oil industry are committed to provide to protect the environment. The MARPOL convention is a major force in ensuring a professional attitude is required of any vessel owner/operator carrying persistent oil as cargo.

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