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Maritime non-fiction / History

Tons of tankers in enjoyable BP history

BP Shipping Pictorial: the Golden Years 1945-1975, by Ray Solly

BP_Shipping_Cover_web.jpgFans of ships of the past are in for a Christmas treat with BP Shipping Pictorial, a well-written company history featuring some 200 tankers.

Author Ray Solly was once a seafarer, and this shows in his interest in how the crew members on the tankers experienced their vessels. With the company already having a reputation as a good employer committed to training, the increasing size of the ships led to ever-more spacious and comfortable crew quarters, he explains.

Single cabins became commonplace, and onboard facilities could include swimming pools and bars. Seafarers are pictured in the book enjoying games of table tennis in their quarters and cricket on the vast deck above the tanks.

Solly also looks at the design and construction of tankers, starting in the late 19th and early 20th century and continuing to the era of VLCCs (very large crude carriers). He reports the relief of crews when their accommodation was moved aft – no longer above the tanks – and notes the step change in safety when inert gas systems were introduced to help prevent explosions.

Illustrated throughout with high-quality photographs and diagrams, the book also benefits from an index of ships so maritime readers can look up the vessels they served on. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have been possible to name the seafarers pictured in many of the photos, but there's a strong chance that some of these will be reading this review as retired Nautilus members, so if you buy the book and spot yourself, please let us know at

BP Shipping Pictorial: the Golden Years 1945-1975
By Ray Solly
Whittles Publishing, £18.99
ISBN: 978 18499 54747

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