Typical route of an oil tanker

21st September 2008, 01:24

Maybe someone can answer this: what would be the typical route of an oil tanker departing from Bonaire to the Persian Gulf in 1979? Would it always go through the Suez canal or could it be that it would choose to round the cape of Good Hope?

Ron Stringer
21st September 2008, 07:52

It would depend to a large extent on the size of the tanker. As long as it was able to go through the Suez Canal in ballast, in normal trading conditions it would travel across the Atlantic to Gibraltar and through the Mediterranean to Port Said. A ship too deep in ballast to transit the Suez Canal would have no choice but to take the southern route around Africa.

Loaded, most crude oil carriers of 1979 would be too deep-draughted to go through the Canal and would also have to take the southern route and forgo the delights of the Red Sea and Suez.

21st September 2008, 16:50
Thanks for that info, Ron. I know for a fact that the ship I am researching was in ballast (as one would expect if traveling from Bonaire to the Gulf). Gross tonnage 153,479. Dead weight 321,186. Does that make it through the Suez?

When taking the Suez route, do the ships do stopovers in Gibraltar and/or Port Said? Would the crew go to shore and maybe be recorded by immigration?

I am trying to trace her route, because maybe some ports on her way have a record of the crew on board. By the way, I posted questions about that tanker in the "research" section here (http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=21332).

Any idea of how I could trace the crew list of a Liberian flagged tanker belonging to a Hong Kong company?

Ron Stringer
21st September 2008, 22:47

Sorry I am not knowledgeable enough to give you a definitive answer on whether or not such a ship could go through the canal in ballast, but my gut feeling is that it would be a no-no. 300,000 dwt is a very deep and wide vessel and I suspect her draft would have been way over the limit. But there are plenty of others more qualified and experienced than I on the site. I am sure you will get confirmation from someone here.

Have no experience with crew records for FOC ships and can't help you there. Not a lot of help, it seems.

Good luck.

John Briggs
22nd September 2008, 00:53

According to Google the canal is 21 metres deep and vessels of over 250,000 dwt can use it.

22nd September 2008, 02:47
I got that the maximum permissible draught of a ship for the Suez is 53ft (16m). The ship I am interested in is listed on Lloyd's as having a draught of 22m. I am not sure if that means draught when fully loaded or in ballast though.

22nd September 2008, 08:36
When taking the Suez route, do the ships do stopovers in Gibraltar and/or Port Said? Would the crew go to shore and maybe be recorded by immigration?

We used to pick up stores from a launch off Algaceris which is on opposite side to Gibraltar in the bay. Only did personnel changes in emergency. No shore leave. As far as I remember no immigration formalities.

22nd September 2008, 13:51
Only rarely would a ship do a crew change at Gib/Suez, only if it was an emergency or the next port was an SBM, or was inappropriate or too difficult to do so and the person's time would be well over by the time they got to the next practical place to relieve them. Having said that, I've been relieved twice at Gib, but only because the ship in question was at Gib anyway for other reasons.

22nd September 2008, 14:00

According to Google the canal is 21 metres deep and vessels of over 250,000 dwt can use it.

That's today. In 1979 the canal was narrower and shallower than today. I would hazard a guess that in 1979 a 321,000 DWT tanker would not have been able to transit the canal, even in ballast.

22nd September 2008, 14:22
tankers of that size unalbe to transit the canal until middle eighties when widen and deepened to accept the larger box boats and tankers. we loaded stores in gib but then we were only 35,000 tonne tanker in the late 1970s.

22nd September 2008, 14:49
When on the British Destiny in early 60's we were unable to transit Suez fully loaded. We picked up an offshore pipeline in eastern Med to top-off our cargo. Would think a vessel of 350,000 tons would be unable to transit the Suez.

Steve Woodward
22nd September 2008, 16:00
Although THIS (http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=42621) shows a 300+ tanker southbound it is possible to transit northbound, first the ship stops at Ain Suhkna HERE (http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/ainsoukhna.htm) - although the tanker end of the town isnt quite so cute. At Ain Suhkna the tanker moors to a monobouy and discharges part of her cargo to a draft of about 14 mts. At this reduced draft she then transits the canal and proceeded to Sidi Kerir HERE (http://portfocus.com/egypt/sidi_kerir/index.html) and reloads the same grade of oil back to her loaded draft and proceeds on to her destination. Ain Suhka and Sidi Kerir, both in Egypt, are connected by a large oil pipeline system thus oil is pumped overland and loaded tankers can make a voyaage from the Perishing Gulf to Europe fully loaded without rounding the Cape.
As voyages go you get to visit, in order : the Gulf, Ain Suhkna, The Canal, Sidi Kerir and Europe - and I still miss life at sea mmm. were are those men in little white coats?

22nd September 2008, 16:09

According to Google the canal is 21 metres deep and vessels of over 250,000 dwt can use it.

Also bear in mind the Suez Canal is in sand and will have a broadly 'V' shaped cross section. The civil engineers amongst us will be able to give ina much more detail of the expected usable draft for a specific beam of vessel. (or v.v.)

22nd September 2008, 16:31
While this thread has the attention of all interested in tankers, does anybody know anything about the Energy Determination or know any of its former crew? Sank following an explosion in the Persian Gulf on its way from Bonaire to Das Island in December 1979. It belonged to a Hong Kong company.

I know quite a bit already, the main thing I am trying to do now is to locate some crew members or people involved in the rescue operation. I know it is currently a requirement for ships to provide a crew list when passing through the Suez, so if the ship passed there there may be a record in Suez. I tried to contact the Suez Canal Authority, but they don't even have a website! Maybe this is a bit far etched. I know Arab countries and trying to find such info dating back more than 25 years would be a challenge, to say the least!

Thank you all for your input!

non descript
22nd September 2008, 18:29
Although you posted in another thread, I answer here to keep it all in one tread.

I was not aware of her being named Energy Revolution I always understood that she was launched on 7th August 1976 and christened (by Mrs Own Hill) Energy Determination. I can see that you have already applied to the Owners in Hong Kong, but given the fact they (Island Navigation Corporation) have sold that side of their company (Associated Maritime Company Ltd) to HONG KONG MING WAH Shipping Co., Ltd., which in turn is now wholly owned by China Merchants Group, I fear that they (AMCL) will not be in a position to either know the answer or be willing to discuss it.

Whilst I would not pour cold water on your enthusiasm, I think you may find a fairly large brick wall stands in your way; there is also that old fashioned concept of caution, and whilst your efforts to trace people may be wholly innocent, it will be very natural for people to want to avoid discussions of the kind you are seeking.

I wish you good luck in your efforts, and maybe someone can step forward and help you.

22nd September 2008, 19:46

I realise that. Although I am only interested in the human side of the story (not making investigations of any kind), I can understand that people may be reluctant. It is not my purpose to harass them of course.

Where did you get this ownership info? From Lloyd's, I got that she belonged to United Overseas Petroleum, subsidiary of Orient Overseas International.

From Lloyd's also (and the Miramar ship index), she was named Energy Revolution prior to the launch (early 1976), then "status changed to launched" in May '76, then in October '76 renamed Energy Determination and status changed to in service/commission.

I am just wondering what is your source of info, maybe I could pull some more details from it.

Who is Mrs Own Hill?


24th September 2008, 23:59
I got the name of the Captain and the Third Mate from the book "Maritime casualties 1963-1996" by Norman Hooke.

Captain: Cheng Kuan
Third Mate: Chih Yuan

Anybody knows them or ever heard of them?

18th March 2009, 22:46
Hi there- i'm new to this forum so excuse any repitition you may have already had. I sailed as cadet on British Promise in 1978 .LOA 344.35M; 253481TONNES DWT. After discharge at Bonaire, 24/05, we sailed via the CGH and arrived in the Gulf 16/07 with a Cape Town Rendezvous on 22/06 Total distance Bonaire to Jebel Dhanna was 11019nm. Those were the days of slow steaming for economy- average speed on the Bonaire-Cape Town leg was 8.54 knots! I imagine a Suez transit was off the radar as far as costing wentStill they were great bronzy days on the bridge.
Steve Weston

19th March 2009, 12:04
Did a Suez transit in 1983 on the Liparus, a Shell Odense "L" Class 315,000 dwt.
Stopped briefly overnight in the Bitter Lakes to have a patch welded on a FO Tank that had been holed in D'Antifer by a tug that missed the stringer.
Otherwise it was slow steaming from Rotterdam - Gulf with crew changes @ Las Palmas and sometimes Cape Town ( not that CT was ever mentioned in the log but great for "private orders" of cigars & wine.)
Was told by C/E as we passed Las Palmas that we be paying off @ next stop in the Gulf - apparently we then had no orders so proceeded at the stately speed of 6 knots for the next 6 weeks. 4/E had strict instructions to jam the soot blowers IN every night to force the old man to speed up.