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Esso Northumbria (launched 1969)

The Esso Northumbria was a huge tanker built at the Wallsend yard of Swan Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd. It dwarfed the nearby houses in Wallsend as it was being built. The ship was launched by Princess Anne, on the 2nd May 1969.[1]. It was completed a year later. When lauched, it was the largest vessel to have been built in Britain at that time. The ship was in service until 1982, when it was broken up in Taiwan.[2]

The Esso Northumbria was the first of a series of Very Large Crude Carrier ships, built by Swan Hunter at Wallsend on Tyneside, in 1969. When launched on 2 May 1969 by HRH The Princess Anne it was the largest vessel to have been built in Britain at that time.

The ship was designed to carry crude oil from the Persian Gulf, and its large design was a result of the Suez Crisis, which had resulted in the closing of the Suez Canal. The ship was single-hulled and was designed with relatively limited knowledge of the behaviours of such large structures at sea, being generally a straightforward scaling up of a smaller design. It was also built to a fixed-price contract at a time when rampant inflation was occurring in Britain. This led to many attempts to cut costs; Swan Hunter ultimately made a loss on the contract. Final cost of the ship was £6.5 million.

Unfortunately the ship was plagued with problems both with its fittings and more seriously, with cracking of the hull under stress. It needed many repairs in its short working lifetime and this, together with fears of a major spill, prompted its retirement in 1982 after only 12 years in service. The ship was broken up at Kaoshiung, Taiwan. A similar fate befell its sister ship, the Esso Hibernia, also built on Tyneside and launched in 1970.

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Ships Swan Hunter
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018490:ESSO Northumbria Wallsend 1969

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Princess Anne Launches Ship (1969)

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Esso Northumbia
- the Wallsend shipyards are special to my grandma because her dad used to work at them and she loved to watch the boats sail off to sea her favourite ship …

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Swan Hunter
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Swan Hunter
- Overview History Swan Hunter was one of the best known shipbuilding companies in the world, founded in 1880 and based in Wallsend, by the River Tyne. After a merger with …
- Profile of the ship, with photos, on the Tyne Built Ships Website, by George Robinson and David Waller.

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Wallsend Four!

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