Acrylic on canvas, by anonymous. Commissioned reproduction of a commemorative postcard. 2007.
'The Universe Ireland: Largest Ship in the World, Bantry Bay 1968',
The Universe Ireland was for a time the largest ship in the world. With the hostilities in the Middle East in the late 1960's and 70's, the Suez Canal was closed down. This heralded the era of the ULCC or Ultra Large Crude Carrier. The unprecedented scale of these massive tankers became economical as they now had to take the longer journey from Saudi Arabia and the oil producing Emirate states around the cape of Good Hope to get to Europe.
Typically these ships were too big for conventional European ports and so natural deep water harbours were selected. Bantry Bay in South West Ireland was hence chosen as the site for one of these new ports from which the cargo of Middle eastern crude would be distributed to refineries around Europe. Other ULCCs built as part of the Universe-class fleet include the Universe Kuwait, Universe Japan, Universe Portugal, Universe Iran and the Universe Korea.
With the reopening of the Suez Canal these tankers' size quickly became uneconomical. Bantry Bays role as a significant node within geo-political story of European energy security was rescinded. Whiddy Island within the Bay is now the site of Ireland's Strategic Oil Reserve in case of future disruptions in supply from the Middle East.
For more on the Universe Ireland see here.
'Current Trends - Past Prospects', Pallas Contemporary Projects, 2007.