Science: The Super Rudder

Efficient as they are in transporting oil across the oceans, today's huge tankers are clumsy giants, difficult to maneuver and hazardous near shore. Starting a voyage, a typical 250,000-ton tanker may require two hours or more to reach cruising speed (approximately 16 knots). Stopping is no less difficult. Even with props reversed, the steel leviathan will frequently coast up to ten miles before coming to a dead halt. A tanker can reduce that distance to less than two miles by a tactic called "slaloming"—turning in one direction and then in the other, like a racing skier.

But in crowded shipping lanes like...

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