BP Tankers


The Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) was a British company founded in 1908 following the discovery of a large oil field in Masjed Soleiman, Iran. It was the first company to extract petroleum from Iran. Initially the company placed contracts for transportation of oil with shipping companies but in 1912 the company started moving towards having its own fleet with the purchase of SS Ferrara - though this was not a specialised tanker.

The British Tanker Co. Ltd set up by APOC in 1915 and ordered 7 steam powered oil tankers from Armstrong Whitworth and Swan Hunter. There ships were named with the prefix British, and this became the fleet naming convention. By 1919 the fleet consisted of 25 vessels of various kinds - some in fact being sailing ships. By 1924 the fleet had grown to 60 vessels; some of these early vessels are represented in this collection.

The primary destination for oil in the 1920s was the UK with the majority being crude oil which was refined at Llandarcy and Grangemouth. The next biggest customers were India and various countries in Europe. Despite the Great Depression, the BTC fleet continued to grow and in 1935 the first of orders for a further 24 ships were placed with British shipyards.

In 1935 APOC was renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) when Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, formally asked foreign countries to refer to Persia as Iran.

At the outbreak of WW2 the conpany had 93 vessels and they were all chartered by the British Government. The company managed these plus additional requisitioned ships and was managing 146 ships by 1942. Over 44 company ships were lost during the war - largely due to torpedoes fired by U-boats.

Within two years the company was back to its strength of 93 vessels including 10 American wartime T2 tankers and three ex merchant aircraft carriers. A further 57 tankers were ordered. In fact the size of the fleet became problematic from a management perspective, so an associated shipping company, the Lowland Tanker Company, was formed in association with Mathesons and Common Brothers of Newcastle to operate 10 time-chartered tankers exclusively for BTC.

In 1951 the company's Iranian assets were nationalized by a new nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq. But in 1953 the CIA and British helped to stage a coup d'état, which established pro-Western general Fazlollah Zahedi as the new PM and bolstered the power of the Shah Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. This same Shah was deposed in 1979 during the Iranian revolution - the consequences of which we are still living with.

In 1956 AIOC was renamed British Petroleum Company and the British Tanker Company (BTC) became the BP Tanker Company. You will see the change of the name of the owner on a large number of entries in the collection. BTC responded by built 13 'supertankers - capable of sailing round the Cape of Good Hope rather than through the Suez Canal - which was very useful during the Suez crisis.

During the 1970s BP extended its oil interests to the North Sea and Alaska and is now a very large multinational group. There are several long articles about the company on Wikipedia for anyone wanting information about the company after the 1950s.


Page Link Ships on Page
BP Tankers (1):
British Admiral (1947) to British Beech
British Admiral (1947), British Admiral (1965), British Adventure, British Architect (1922), British Architect (1958), British Ardour, British Argosy, British Aviator, British Baron, British Beech
BP Tankers (2):
British Birch to British Chancellor
British Birch, British Bugler, British Builder, British Bulldog, British Captain (1949), British Captain (1966), British Cavalier, British Caution, British Centaur, British Chancellor
BP Tankers (3):
British Character to British Consul
British Character, British Chivalry (1929), British Chivalry (1949), British Colonel, British Colony, British Commander, British Commerce, British Commodore (1923), British Commodore (1967), British Consul
BP Tankers (4):
British Cormorant to British Dart
British Cormorant, British Corporal, British Councillor, British Courage (1928), British Courage (1957), British Craftsman, British Crown, British Crusader, British Curlew, British Dart
BP Tankers (5):
British Defender to British Drummer
British Defender, British Destiny, British Diplomat (1926), British Diplomat (1950), British Diplomat (1963), British Duchess (1924), British Duchess (1958), British Duke, British Dominion, British Drummer
BP Tankers (6):
British Earl to British Ensign (1947)
British Earl, British Empress (1917), British Empress (1947), British Endeavour (1927), British Endeavour (1949), British Energy, British Endurance, British Engineer, British Ensign (1917), British Ensign (1947)
BP Tankers (7):
British Enterprise to British Fidelity (1938)
British Enterprise, British Envoy, British Esk, British Explorer, British Faith, British Fal, British Fame, British Fern (1947), British Fern (1964), British Fidelity (1938)
BP Tankers (8):
British Fidelity (1969) to British General
British Fidelity (1969), British Flag, British Freedom (1928), British Freedom (1950), British Forth, British Fortune, British Fulmar, British Fusilier, British Gannet, British General
BP Tankers (9):
British Genius to British Hawthorn
British Genius, British Glory, British Grenadier (1922), British Grenadier (1963), British Guardian, British Guardsman, British Gull, . British Gunner (1922), British Gunner (1954), British Hawthorn
BP Tankers (10):
British Hazel to British Inventor
British Hazel, British Hero, British Holly, British Honour, British Humber, British Hussar, British Industry (1927), British Industry (1957), British Integrity, British Inventor
BP Tankers (11):
British Isles to British Laurel
British Isles, British Judge, British Justice, British Kestrel, British Kiwi, British Knight, British Lady, British Lancer (1942), British Lancer (1963), British Laurel
BP Tankers (12):
British Liberty (1949) to British Mariner
British Liberty (1949), British Liberty (1968), British Lord, British Loyalty (1949), British Loyalty (1968), British Major, British Mallard, British Maple (1951), British Maple (1965), British Mariner
BP Tankers (13):
British Merchant to British Patience
British Merchant, British Merlin, British Might, British Motorist, British Navigator, British Oak, British Officer (1922), British Officer (1955), British Osprey, British Patience
BP Tankers (14):
British Patriot to British Premier (1951)
British Patriot, British Patrol, British Peer, British Pilot, British Pioneer, British Poplar, British Power (1936), British Power (1959), British Premier (1922), British Premier (1951)
BP Tankers (15):
British Prestige (1931) to British Reliance
British Prestige (1931), British Prestige (1962), British Pride (1931), British Pride (1973), British Promise (1942), British Promise (1974), British Prudence, British Purpose, British Realm, British Reliance
BP Tankers (16):
British Renown (1928) to British Rover
British Renown (1928), British Renown (1957), British Resolution (1937), British Resolution (1974), British Resource, British Respect (1943), British Respect (1974), British Restraint, British Robin, British Rover
BP Tankers (17):
British Sailor to British Severn
British Sailor, British Science, British Scientist (1948), British Scientist (1971), British Scout, British Seafarer, British Security, British Sergeant (1922), British Sergeant (1954), British Severn
BP Tankers (18):
British Signal to British Statesman
British Signal, British Skill, British Soldier, British Sovereign, British Spirit, British Splendour (1931), British Splendour (1950), British Sportsman, British Star, British Statesman
BP Tankers (19):
British Strength (1931) to British Trader (1921)
British Strength (1931), British Strength (1948), British Surveyor, British Talent, British Tamar, British Tay, British Tenacity (1939), British Tenacity (1969), British Test, British Trader (1921)
BP Tankers (20):
British Trader (1957) to British Valour (1957)
British Trader (1957), British Trent, British Triumph, British Trust, British Tweed, British Union, British Unity (1939), British Unity (1969), British Valour (1927), British Valour (1957)
BP Tankers (21):
British Venture (1948) to British Vision
British Venture (1948), British Venture (1963), British Vigilance, British Vigour, BP Vigour, British Vine, British Virtue, British Viscount (1921), British Viscount (1951), British Vision
BP Tankers (22):
British Willow to Fort Stevens
British Willow, British Workman (1922), British Workman (1949), British Wye, British Yeoman, Clyde Inventor, Clyde Pioneer, Clyde Prospector, Fort Stevens

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