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.