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Home > Blog > A basic history of tankers

A basic history of tankers

The ship brokers at Wake Marine are regularly in contact with tanker owners all over the world. This ensures that, on behalf of charterers, we can source the most appropriate vessels for use in liquid chemical transportation. The tankers that we source for charterers range from small coastal tankers to deep sea parcel tankers, and there is a lengthy and complex history that has seen the development of this impressive variety of tankers. However, we don’t want to leave you feeling bewildered about this history, so we have here provided a relatively basic and easy-to-comprehend version of the history of tankers.

The tanker: a relatively modern form of liquid cargo ship

Using a tanker for chemical transport is a relatively modern practice. Indeed, tankers date merely from the late 19th century – as, before then, the technology to enable straightforward and effective bulk liquid transport simply wasn’t available. Also, the market did not encourage the transport of or even the selling of bulk cargo. Hence, most ships transported many different products in different holds. Liquids, even potable water that was crucial for the survival of the ship’s crew, were typically stored in casks in these ships.

A revolution led by the oil industry

The first industry to use tankers for liquid cargo transport was the oil industry. This industry used tankers to carry bulk refined fuel from refineries to customers. This fuel would then be stored ashore in large tanks before being subdivided to be delivered to separate locations. All of this was more financially attractive to the industry than transporting oil over sea in the old manner. Other industries began to use tankers and bring about liquid transport in these ways, as there were similar financial incentives for these industries that transported liquids other than oil. One particularly famous company that early adopted the practice of liquid transport using tankers – the liquid being, in this instance, stout – was the Guinness brewery.

The state and forms of liquid transport tankers today

Today, there are different forms of tankers that are used by liquid chemical shipping companies – and we at Wake Marine regularly source tankers of all of these types. Major tankers that are used by liquid chemical transport companies include oil tankers, the two basic types of which are crude tankers and product tankers, and chemical tankers. Tankers used by such companies also widely differ in their capacities and are classified according to capacity.