Just another Thirty pieces of silver?


Engineering is the stuff which drives our very worlds. From tiny but massively-engineered micro-circuits to massive modern aircraft, from the smallest hydro-power installation to a giant dam, the one thing upon which they all depend, for safety, for longevity; is Engineering. The range of engineers is almost as long as the dictionary, because the design, and build of everything relies on their talents, from the theory to the practical. You can sit in a train as it crosses the Forth Bridge, secure in the knowledge that that structure will not fail, and send you plunging to your death, because it was, in fact, designed by cautious engineers who knew that their work had to be over-engineered; because they did not know all the stresses which might arise on their bridge, so built in sufficient tolerance so that nothing would fail.

When huge oil tankers were first envisaged, naval architects studied the various forces which impact upon their structures, knowing the forces which a compartmented cargo of maybe 150,000 tonnes will place upon the hull and tank steelworks, and plan / design / engineer accordingly. The ships were designed to transport a cargo which is inherently safe, because it takes a great deal of heat to ignite heavy crude oil, but the engineers also knew that the most dangerous time for an oil tanker is, paradoxically enough, when she is empty, because that means the all the cargo holds are full of highly-volatile and explosive gas. So they designed systems which scrub the exhaust from the engines, remove all the corrosive nasties; then pump this inert gas to displace all the dangerous gases from the empty cargo tanks. This ensures that a single spark from, say, an anode element falling from its fixing, would not cause a huge explosion.

Then imagine a bunch of penny-pinching  accountants, who know lots about cash, and capital, and risks, along with all the other bullshit; but very, very little about shipping and engineering design; and decide to modify ten huge tankers in order to carry iron ore. They spend large amounts of cash converting the hulls, but forget that iron ore is very, very different to oil. And what do you suppose they got?

Well, folks, they got this. Twenty two dead, drowned when the Stellar Daisy capsized and sank faster than the crew could reach the safety of the deck and the sea. Two survived!

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