Shipping: The Time of Leviathans

During World War II, 16,000-ton tankers were called "supertankers."

Those ships could almost be used as lifeboats on the new automated tankers that today sweep across the seas. Last year 19 ships capable of carrying more than 50,000 tons deadweight were put into commission, and that was only the beginning.

Japanese shipyards lead the ways: under construction are eight tankers of more than 100,000 tons; on order are 19 more for delivery by the end of next year. The British delivered their first leviathan, the 106,000-ton British Admiral, to British Petroleum last year, and Shell Oil Co. has just ordered a...