Eerste Wereldoorlog en interbellum

De meest bekende “trunck deck” tanker was de “warboat” die ontwikkeld werd in 1916 voor het brandstofvervoer van de Britse oorlogsschepen. De machinekamer werd opnieuw midscheeps geplaatst.

Het tankschip Iroquois had de machinekamer in het achterdeel van het schip en werd aangedreven door een dubbele schroef. Het schip was uitgerust om de Navahoe te slepen.

Tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog zorgde de onbeperkte duikbotenoorlog voor een groot tekort aan onder andere tankers. De Amerikaanse ambassadeur in het Verenigd Koninkrijk, Walter Hines Page, schreef naar Washington

The submarines are sinking freight ships faster than freight ships are being built by the whole world. In this way, too, then, the Germans are succeeding. Now if this goes on long enough, the Allies’ game is up. For instance, they have lately sunk so many fuel oil ships, that this country may very soon be in a perilous condition — even the Grand Fleet may not have enough fuel“.

Georges Clemenceau schreef aan de Amerikaanse president WilsonGasoline is as vital as blood in the coming battles…a failure in the supply of gasoline would cause the immediate paralysis of our armies“.

Wilson reageerde krachtig. De War Shipping Board vorderde alle schepen in de Verenigde Staten en nam ook alle scheepswerven daar over. Er kwam een ongekend budget van 1,3 miljard dollar vrij en bij Hog Island werd de grootste scheepswerf ter wereld gebouwd, bekend van de Hog Islander.

Tussen 1916 en 1921 werden 316 tankers gebouwd met een totaal van 3,2 miljoen dwt, terwijl de gehele wereldvloot voor de oorlog iets over 2 miljoen bedroeg.

Toen hier in 1923 zo’n 800.000 ton van werd opgelegd, bood dit enorme kansen voor speculanten, zoals Daniel Keith Ludwig. In 1925 had hij het vrachtschip Phoenixgekocht en daar tanks in laten bouwen.

Deze geklonken tanks lekten, wat een explosief mengsel opleverde. De explosie die hier op volgde, doodde twee man terwijl Ludwig zwaargewond raakte. Die ervaring droeg bij aan zijn voorkeur voor lassen.

Na de Eerste Wereldoorlog ging de scheepvaart over van kolen naar stookolie. Ook nam de populariteit van de auto toe door Henry Ford en breidde de luchtvaart uit. Dit leidde tot meer vraag naar olie en dus tot meer vervoer ervan.

Met goede contacten bij het Shipping Board, was het mogelijk om voordelig aan schepen te komen, wat ook veel fraude tot gevolg had.

Voor de oliemaatschappijen was dit evenwel te omslachtig, wat ervoor zorgde dat het aandeel van onafhankelijke rederijen in de wereldtankervloot aan het begin van de Tweede Wereldoorlog zo’n 39 procent bedroeg.

Een andere oorzaak hiervan was dat de oliemaatschappijen veel geld nodig hadden om hun investeringen te financieren in de snel groeiende oliemarkt.

Door de schepen niet te kopen, maar te huren, drukten deze kosten volgens de toen geldende regels niet op hun bond rating, zodat ze voordeliger konden lenen.

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