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The Development of Crude Oil Tankers (Hardback)

A Historical Miscellany

Photographic Books Transport

By Dr Ray Solly
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 212 colour & black and white illustrations & diagrams
ISBN: 9781526792419
Published: 11th November 2021



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In this engaging book, Dr. Solly examines the history of crude oil tankers from early days when this vital commodity was carried aboard ordinary sailing vessels, through the innovative designs that resulted in significant breakthroughs leading to early single-hulled VLCCs, and the later stronger hence safer double-hulled vessel.

The professional reader will identify with much of the author’s thinking, especially his handling of the enormous advances in shipboard techniques, and examination of excellent contributions made by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) from its conception in 1948, to its penetratingly effective work of today. Special attention is paid to their profound influence on the industry through MARPOL and SOLAS innovations, including arguably the greatest contribution made to tanker safety and environmental protection by Inert Gas Systems (IGS) and Crude Oil Washing (COW).

Non-seagoing readers in allied shipping professions, and that huge army of ship enthusiasts, will learn a great deal about the ins-and-outs of an industry which, for the immediate future, underpins virtually every aspect of practical 21st Century living.

Ray Solly’s authoritative story is lavishly supported by 211 images (many of which have never previously been published), plus accounts of two recent voyages aboard a Norwegian North sea shuttle tanker, and a product carrier. Both passenger trips not only updated his professional knowledge but provided penetrating insight into current maritime practices. Each confirmed his convincing observation that today’s crude oil carriers present the safest and most regulated form of transportation in the world.

"...a highly readable, very well-illustrated and explained compendium of a sector which may have faded from the frontal lobes of much of the public, yet crude oil tankers remain the work horse of liquid energy globally. After all, if it can’t be driven, piped, sent by train or plane, then chances are the energy we use was delivered on a crude oil supertanker chronicled in this book."

The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Summer/Été 2023) - the Canadian Nautical Research Society

The book is a good read for those who are interested in learning more about crude oil carriers. The book is well-written....

I believe that this is a successful book that has sparked my interest in learning more about this industry and its development.

Forum Navale

Dr Ray Solly examines the history of crude oil tankers from the early days of sailing vessels to design breakthroughs for the single-hulled VLCCs and on to the stronger safer double-hulled vessels.

Supported by 211 images and often accompanied by a ship plan, the book is well crafted – reflecting the author's career as a former navigating officer, schoolmaster and maritime writer. Aimed at the army of ship enthusiasts as well as a resource for those working in allied shipping professions, it is a glossy hardback to grace any coffee table.

The Nautilus Telegraph - Mar/Apr 2023

There is much of interest in this book, which has no bibliography and is unencumbered by footnotes.. the strength of this book, which is good value for money is in the 211 images presented, many of which have never been previously published and their descriptive captions.

The Mariner's Mirror Vol. 108 No. 4 Nov 2022

A superb reference for oil tankers!


Modelers and maritime history researchers interested in merchant shipping in general and tankers in particular may be interested in buying this book for its illustrations.

Nautical Research Journal 67:3 (Autumn 2022).

Considering that oil tankers are some of the largest steel constructions on the planet there is relatively little published for the general reader about their construction and development.
This book is an excellent introduction to a vital part of the world’s shipping. Highly recommended even if you don’t have the sea in your blood.

Roger Backhouse - The Society of Model and Experimental Engineers Journal - June 2022, Vol. 30, No. 3

Book review as featured in

Shipping Today and Yesterday

"There is little to fault in The Development of Crude Oil Tankers. Written by an experienced operator, supported by superb photographs and drawings, the book can only be described as a ‘must have’ for ship enthusiasts."

Read the review here

Australian Naval Institute

About Dr Ray Solly

Dr. Ray Solly enjoyed a first career as a navigating officer in the Merchant Navy aboard deep-sea dry cargo ships, supertankers and, during long vacations whilst studying, in the engagingly different world of coasters. He spent twenty years as a residential schoolmaster in two Independent schools, and has since developed a third career as a marine author of traditionally published non-fictional books, and numerous articles.

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