The Sinclair Petrolore

The Sinclair Petrolore had a brief and controversial history of just five years, carrying both oil and ore during its short lifespan. Using an engine that was made in 1936, the Petrolore was built in 1955 by billionaire Daniel K. Ludwig’s National Bulk Carriers, Inc. at the Kure Shipyards Division in Japan. The sixth in that line of ships, the Sinclair name comes from the fact that the Sinclair Refining Co. held a long-term charter on the ship.

Like many ships that Ludwig’s company built, the actual ship was a bare-bones version that was specifically focused on delivering the maximum amount of product it could. One of the unique visuals from it was its thin smokestack. However, it was the only ship that had the capability to carry cargo that was both liquid and solid.

Possessing a length of 789 feet and a beam of 106 feet, five inches, the Petrolore had a capacity to carry 56,500 deadweight tons of crude oil and had a gross register tonnage of 35,477 tons. One indication of how groundbreaking this ship was evidenced by the fact that only a few years earlier, an 18,000-ton tanker was considered to be among the largest available.

It was estimated that it was capable of holding the equivalent of 1,350 railroad tank cars that could span a distance of 10.5 miles. At the time of its launch, it was the largest cargo ship in the world, though that title was a short-lived one.

The ship’s end came in mysterious fashion on December 6, 1960 in the waters of Brazil. While no official confirmation was ever determined by the authorities in charge, the likely cause was leaking oil that caused an explosion. That caused what was then the largest oil spill ever-estimated at 60,000 tons.