The Shipbuilding Council of America (SCA) says the sinking of the 26-year old tanker Prestige illustrates the danger of continued operation of single-hulled tank vessels. The accident should serve as a warning to shippers who continue to look for cheap alternatives to modern, double-hull tank vessels.
SCA has long been warning of the dangers of continued operation of aged single-hull tank vessels. "Unfortunately, even in the U.S., companies continue to charter older, single-hull tankers similar to the sunken Prestige at discounted rates," stated SCA President Allen Walker. No new product tankers are under construction or on order for the domestic trades.
Only 21 product tankers in the U.S.-flag fleet are currently double-hulled and 10 of those vessels are more than 16 years old today. The remainder of the U.S.-flag domestic fleet is made up of 11 single-hull tankers, all of which are greater than 20 years old, and 19 tankers with doublebottoms, but not double-sides. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires all tank vessels operating in the domestic service to be double-hulled by January 1, 2015.