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Canal, river craft & Maracaibo tankers
From the Book Sailing ship to Supertanker.

For the river and canal fleet three motor barges were built in 1956 for work on the rivers Humber and Trent and the Aire and
Calder canal. All came from the Thorne yard of R. Dunston Ltd., and each was given one 16 feet and 4x14 feet storage tanks.
Hull measurements were 127 feet length X 17 feet 6 inches breadth; tonnage was 170 gross. An oil engine gave 7 knots.
All three were sold in 1964 to J. H. Whitaker Ltd., Hull.

Esso Leeds
Humber Queen
Esso Nottingham
Humber Prince
Esso Nottingham
Humber Princess

On the River Thames, large quantities of refined products and much of London's fuel moved on the tideway each day. Years
ago the fuel cargoes of the barges were of wood and later coal. When oil became the chief fuel it was still carried by the
Thames barge, but for oil cargoes the barges had become tank barges. Non-propelled, they resembled the open-hatch, traditional Thames cargo lighter generally known as a barge, except that they were decked over. And whereas the 1871 Petroleum Act merely required spirit to be carried "in a covered barge built of iron", modern laws stipulated that petroleum barges should be custom-built and their manhole hatches hermetically sealed. Spirit-carrying craft had also to identify their cargoes by flying a metal flag, red in colour and with a white centre.
Esso maintained a number of upstream bulk plants along the tideway, at Greenwich, Silvertown, Bromley East, Fulham, Battersea and Hammersmith, and supplies for them were carried from the company's terminals at Thames Haven, in the estuary, and Purfleet in their own lighters.
There was certainly no glamour to this continuous operation. Strings of barges were towed beneath numerous road and rail
bridges, carrying cargoes to wharves and depots, often to the very heart of London and beyond. The towing tugs had to be
powerful, for if the upstream destination was a lengthy haul full advantage of a flood tide had to be taken in order to deliver a
cargo to its discharge point in one passage and in daylight. Even then they were only allowed to proceed if the cargo could be discharged immediately on arrival.
A group of swim-headed barges fitted with portable tanks was delivered by Henry Scarr Ltd., Hessle, in 1951. They were for
use under tow in the River Thames and estuarial waters. Measurements were 97 feet length X 24 feet breadth, giving a gross tonnage of 131. The deadweight capacity was 140 tons.

Esso Hertford
Esso Kent
Esso Oxford, later renamed Esso Hampshire
Esso Middlesex
Eso Surrey
Esso Cambridge, later renamed Esso Dorset
Esso Essex
Esso Bickingham
Esso Sussex
Esso Norfolk

Another ten were completed in 1961:

Esso Humber
Esso Tyne
Esso Mersey
Esso Avon
Esso Severn
Esso Clyde
Esso Tees
Esso Forth
Esso Trent
Esso Thames
Two motor tugs, also for work on the Thames, were delivered in 1953-54 from W. J. Yarwood and Sons at Northwich,
Cheshire. Measurements were 76 feet length (oa) X 19 feet 6 inches breadth, giving 77 gross tons. Crossley diesel engines gave 10 knots. They became a familiar sight plying the river regularly with oil barges until sold in 1966.

Esso Greenwich - 1953
1966 Silvergilt (Silvertown Services Ltd.).
1971 Kitara(]. P. Knight Ltd., Rochester).
1973 (H. Pounds, Portsmouth). Laid up.
1978 Metrec (Metrec Ltd., Newhaven). Re-engined and rebuilt.

Esso Reading - 1954
1966 Silverclad (Silvertown Services Ltd.).
1971 Kokota (]. P. Knight Ltd., Rochester).
1973 (H. Pounds, Portsmouth). Laid up.
1977 Chname IV (Christian! & Nielsen).

Finally in this decade came the small, 8 gross tons Esso Recovery II, for use in oil reclamation work. Built by Mechan Ltd. in 1960, her measurements were 28 feet (loa) X 10 feet breadth. (A previous oil reclamation barge, Esso Recovery, was built by E. Newell and Company Ltd., Misterton, in 1941. She had measurements of 45 feet length (oa) and 16 feet breadth, giving 60 gross tons. She had oil engines, was fitted with a bow door and worked in Southampton Water.)

Maracaibo tankers
Four Maracaibo shallow-draught tankers were brought to Britain from Venezuela in 1956. This type of ship had evolved from the necessity of having to top-up ocean-going tankers on the seaward side of a bar across the entrance to Maracaibo Lake. After the war, dredging overcame this barrier, and many of the Maracaibo tankers became redundant.
The ships were trunk-decked, with a bridge astride the trunk just forward of midships. They were somewhat akin to the early Admiralty tankers designed for bunkering work and were given a great beam.
During the war ten of these ships were constructed in the United States for the newly-formed Creole Petroleum Corporation, Panama, a subsidiary company of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, and it was four of these that were transferred from the Panamanian flag to the Esso Petroleum Company and the British flag in 1956. The ships were refitted in early autumn of that year by Brigham and Cowan Ltd. and at Palmers (Hebburn) yard for the United Kingdom coastal service, sailing out of Fawley with oil to those electricity generating stations which the Central Electricity Generating Board had converted from coal to oil burning, particularly on the River Thames.

Esso Lambeth - 09.1943, Ex Caripito 1956.
27.09.1965: Arrived Hamburg for breaking up.

Esso Wandsworth - 11.1943, Ex Guarico 1956.

On the foggy night of 23rd September, 1965, the Esso Wandsworth was bound from Thames Haven with fuel oil for Little-brook power station, at Dartford, on the River Thames.
At 10.50 p.m., when in the vicinity of the Ovens Buoy, Lower Hope Reach, she was in collision with the Dutch motor vessel Moerdyk (11,127 gt, 1965), which was outward bound from the Royal Docks for Havre and Vancouver.
The Esso Wandsworth was holed in the port side of No. 1 tank, being cut through to the centreline, with the cargo tank, ballast tank, pump rooms and store rooms flooded. There was also extensive deck damage and some 800 tons of her cargo was lost into the river. The vessel was beached on the mudflats upstream of the buoy, with four tugs in attendance.
The Moerdyk, holed in the forepeak and split on her starboard waterline, anchored off Alpha Jetty, Cliffe, for inspection.
She later proceeded to Rotterdam, discharged her cargo and was repaired by the Rotterdam Dry Dock Company.
The Esso Wandsworth was refloated on 26th September and towed to Purfleet where she was discharged. She then went back downriver, first to Tilbury Repair Jetty and then to Commercial Wharf, Gravesend, where work commenced on cutting away some of the damaged structure. On 12th October, while this was in progress, there was the blinding flash of an explosion, flames shot into the air and dense smoke rose over the Gravesend waterfront as fumes and oil, sprayed across the ship's bridgefront in the collision, were set on fire by sparks from a cutting torch. The fire was extinguished later the same day by the fire brigade and firefighting tugs, and a week later the ship was drydocked at Tilbury. Here, the resultant examination showed that the vessel could not be economically repaired and she was declared a constructive total loss. On 11th December the tanker was towed just a mile upstream and delivered to the shipbreaker's yard at Grays, Essex, for demolition.

Esso Chelsea - 05.1945, Ex Amacuro 1956.
30.06.1969: Arrived Bruges for breaking up.

Esso Fulham - 06.1945,  Ex Trujillo 1956.
10.6.1970: Arrived Bilbao in tow of tug AznarJose Luis for breaking up.

The ten ships built for the Creole Petroleum Corporation were constructed in two yards, seven in 1943 by Barnes-Duluth Shipbuilding Company and three in 1945 by Bethlehem-Sparrows Point Shipyard Inc., Maryland. They were 335 feet in length and 60 feet in breadth. The draught was 15 feet and the tonnage 3,401 gross. Deadweight capacity was 5,500 tons and twin screws were driven by triple expansion engines. The Caripito and Guarico came from the Duluth yard, Amacuro and Trnjillo from Sparrows Point.

The histories of the remaining six ships are varied. The other Duluth-built ships were San Joaquin, Temblador, San Cristobal, Guiria and Valera, and of these, Valera was the first to go, sunk on 7th March, 1944, by a torpedo from the submarine U.518 in the Caribbean, in position 11.30 N 76.27 W. Three, San Joaquin, San Cristobal and Guiria, went to the Compania de Petroleo Lago, Venezuela (a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey) during the period 1948-50 and had the prefix Esso added to their names. The Esso Joaqnin then moved to Petroleos Mexicanos in 1959 and as Pemex A sank on 21st January, 1960, on a voyage in ballast from Campeche to Coatzacoalcos, in position 18.UN 94.13W, in the Gulf of Campeche, Mex-ico. On 27th October, 1961, Esso Gmria arrived at Hamburg to be broken up, while Esso San Cristobal, which in 1960 became Witwater, owned by Challenger Ltd., Trinidad, broke in two on 13th December, 1968, off Colon (Canal Zone) on a voyage from Las Minas to Cristobal with diesel and heavy oil. The next day the forepart sank in position 09.25 N 79.49 W and on the 16th December the after-part dragged anchor and went aground. The remaining ship of the group, Temblador, went to Canadian owners in 1960 and by 1978 had been relegated to the status of a barge, operating on the Great Lakes.
Nothing very spectacular happened to the Mara, the first of the Bethlehem ships. She, too, joined Compania de Petroleo Lago - in 1954 - and also took the Esso prefix. On 23rd February, 1965, she arrived at Valencia for breaking up.