Supership [Archive] - Glock Talk


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11-07-2005, 12:08
This book was an out of the blue find. My wife walked by a library, and they had a $1 table out in front to get rid of used books. She picked it up for me because she thought it was about battleships (the black and white cover picture, at a quick glance, to some, could look military).

"Supership" by Noel Mostert, published by Knopf. The author spent part of a year on a VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier), or supertanker, traveling around a good part of the world. Very interesting about long, slow sea voyaging on a remarkably luxurious ship. Because the ship is so big and roomy, the crew quarters are large and the common areas are outfitted very nicely to keep the crew happy as much as possible during months at sea. The book leans heavily towards the environmental damage potential of these ships, and the not quite the best building standards of these ships. This is on the S.S. Ardshiel, of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O Line). The ship has a deadweight of 214,085 tons, a length of 1,063 feet, a 157ft 9in beam, and a capacity of 206,000 tons of crude oil.

A very interesting, and more than minor fact about this book, is that it was written in 1974. Yep, thirty years ago.

Now it has made me make an effort to look more into what is going on today, 30 years later, on the oceans. Of course, a lot of the almost doomsday possibilities he talks about maybe happening in the 1990's haven't occured, but it still is a lot of stuff to think about.

11-07-2005, 20:21
wonder what sorts of jobs they do?how much they make then and now?man that sound like great duty!

11-07-2005, 21:23
According to the book, they did make good money, especially since they were on the ship so much they simply couldn't spend it.

"Great duty" is a relative term. Now, this is from thirty years ago, but many times the sailors would be on the ship, never touching land, for over 3 months at a time. Some crewmembers would routinely go years without setting foot on dry land. The long, boring months at sea could affect some people negatively, and the officers would keep their eye out for potential pyschological problems. A big concern was about captains "losing it".

A lot of the jobs on board were really related only to loading and unloading, so while underway crewmembers sometimes would get their daily duties done in an hour or so, and then have nothing to do. Most captains and officers would have to create jobs just to keep people busy.

These early supertankers were not really built all that well. For cost savings, many only had one engine, with realistically NO backup. So if they had engine problems, they would simply drift until things were fixed. They had a single propeller, so they handled poorly. Also, the ships are so huge, they can ram smaller boats in the open sea and the crew simply won't know about it. Although during the big storms at sea the ships just plow through huge waves, damage can still occur to the ship (like the bow getting dented, cracked, or even losing pieces of hull), and again, the captain may not know about it until they get to port.

A lot of fascinating information. This is all from one book, and new to me, so I don't know how accurate it is.

Funny how some books turn out so interesting. I never would have thought I would be interested in reading a whole book on supertankers!

11-30-2005, 20:05
good money,decent living quarters,months at a time underway,yes this sounds like good duty too me.then again i concidered i was getting over on the USN when i was being paid(about 350 or so a month)to travel on this big cruse ship the USS Inchon LPH 12.OUR SLEEPING QUARTERS WERE CRAMPPED.more like shelves than bunks.but hey i slept like a baby most times.

Graham Chalmers
07-29-2006, 10:59
As An engineer officer on the SS Ardshiel at the time of Noel Mostarts visit I can tell you all that although P&O trated every officer well and the standards aboard ship were far and away better than most the lonelyness of tanker travel called tankerites was taking it's toll on everyone on board. The same I'm sure can be said today for most vessels.As a side bar, the next time you want to complain about the price of gas think of all the people that earn their living getting that Middle Eastern crude to a refinery and then to the pumps and as you drink your bottled water at a dollar fifty a liter.

08-05-2006, 17:34
Originally posted by Graham Chalmers
As An engineer officer on the SS Ardshiel at the time of Noel Mostarts visit

Really ?!!? Gotta love the internet! So, have you read the book? Was it accurate?

Graham Chalmers
08-06-2006, 06:59
yes the book was really well researched and documented but Noel's bias towards certain individuals on the ship belied his professionalism