Zoroaster: The first tanker ship ever built

By Vessels

Zoroaster – the first tanker ship in history, responsible for revolutionizing liquid cargo transportation. Tankers are a major part, maybe the most important one, in the transportation of oil and they date way back to the late 19th century, when Swede Ludwig Nobel had the idea for transporting oil stored in tanks contained within ships.

A brief history of the Zoroaster Tanker Ship

Before tanker ships were introduced as means of oil transportation, oil was transported via a crude method across water channels. Casks and drums were filled up with oil after which they were transported to the designated locations. This method not only was time-consuming in regards to the loading of the vessels but it also lacked the necessary security and safety.

The above-mentioned method was a common practice in the Soviet Republic, especially in the Azerbaijan province of Baku, where most of the rock oil excavation processes were based at.

After having thoroughly observed the methods of transportation to ferry the excavated oil between the production areas and to the refineries, Ludwig Nobel came up with an alternative method that changed the transportation process forever. He proposed that instead of filling up casks with the excavated oil and then loading those casks onto the vessels, why not use a pipeline with the help of which to directly fill the excavated rock oil into storage tanks built within the ship itself. The rest is history.

The construction of the oil tanks within the ship was also an aspect that had to be carefully evaluated and examined. If the tanks were to be constructed too close to the engine and boiler compartments, the risk of a potential mishap would rise. In a case of non-proper ventilation, incidents and detonations also may occur. For solving this issue Ludwig needed some help from his brother Robert Nobel who was as equally important for tankers to become the way they are today.

At first Ludwig’s idea was met with a lot of suspicion and not many believed that it would work. Despite the criticism and numerous doubts of the maritime community, in 1877 Nobel managed to construct a 12-kilometre long pipe by which to transport the oil from the drilling zones directly to the ship. Simultaneously, the Swedish innovation genius was also ordered to design and build a vessel specifically including the above-mentioned considerations at a Swedish shipbuilding yard, again in 1877. Zoroaster – The first ever tanker ship was brought into this world.

Image: yandex.ru

Characteristics of the Zoroaster

Named after the Persian prophet Zarathustra, the first tanker ship in history became operational in 1878. The Zoroaster was constructed with steel (Bessemer variance) while its oil storage tanks were made out of iron.

Considering the year of its creation, the Zoroaster was actually quite advanced technologically. It had ballast tanks in order to balance it while sailing for better ease in the transportation process of its cargo.

The vessel was over 180 feet long with an over 35 feet breadth and a draught of around 10 feet. The cargo capacity of the tanker was around 240 gross tons of crude lamp oil.

In the following years after the Zoroaster had turned out to be a success, the Nobel brothers approved the construction of eight additional tankers for their corporation Branobel, with some suitable constructional modifications as required. Each of the eight vessels proved to be as or even more efficient than the Zoroaster and basically shaped the utilization of tankers as we know them today.