The Universe Portugal was an Ultra Large Crude Carrier that was built at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan. The steam engine ship was, like many ships of this era, the largest tanker in the world at the time it was built as part of Gulf Oil’s fleet of Universe ships. This collection included five other oil that also took the name of a different country: Iran, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait and South Korea.
Delivered on March 1, 1969, the Universe Portugal was Liberian-flagged, had a length of 1,133 feet, a beam of 175 feet and a depth of 105 feet. During its time of operation, it carried not only oil, but also chemicals as well. It possessed a gross tonnage of 149.622 tons and a deadweight tonnage of 332,337 tons and could manage a crew of 52 men.
Like its sister ships, the Portugal has a unique niche in popular culture, being mentioned toward the end of the 1969 Clancy Brothers song, Bringin’ Home the Oil. The song was used in a commercial to promote Gulf operations around the world.
The Portugal had a capacity to carry more than 10.5 million gallons of oil, with its first task beginning after it traveled from Nagasaki to Kuwait in the spring of 1969. From there, the ship was tasked with carrying oil to Ireland.
In 1980, the useful life of the Universe Portugal and two of its sister ships, the Iran and South Korea, officially came to an end. All three were broken up at the Keun Hwa Iron & Steel in Taiwan, with the Portugal’s scrap date beginning on August 1, 1980 and lasting for close to two months. The Japan was broken up three years later, followed by both the Ireland and Kuwait the following year.