Hundreds of oil-bearing ships have faced destruction in the form of "super rust," a virulent form of corrosion that is "the inevitable result when unforgiving chemistry meets the harsh economics and tangled industry politics of transporting fossil fuels." Wired Magazine examines the root causes of such "hyper-accelerated corrosion," and determines among other things that proper maintenance in re-coating the steel ships would effectively combat the problem. However, "first-class ship maintenance has become increasingly rare," as ships change hands frequently, and find themselves in the hands of owners who "tend to be less interested in maintaining their vessels than maximizing the return on their investments." The article details the scientific processes of corrosion, examines the recent history and challenges facing supertankers, and investigates where the industry -- and its aging ships -- might be headed.
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