On June 7, 1900, 150 years ago, a passing cargo vessel discovered a world of kerosene that had built up in Libya since 1848.
Oil from Venezuela and Algeria was seeping into the Mediterranean, but few people knew what to do with the oil. Slowly, large oil tankers would begin to arrive from Europe, but a need arose for more space in the ship.
In the museum’s current exhibit, “Oil, Guns and Queen: The Slave Trade, Fuel and Power,” visitors can watch a video interview with Colonel Henri Riget, the museum’s director of maritime artifacts and archives. He talks about the decision to name a ship named “Northern Fleet,” after the Libyan port that was first used to transport oil to Europe.
Here’s a sampling of what North Sea Fleet later became:
Flynos, a tanker with a helipad designed to allow sailors to disembark in oil fields while simultaneously on duty
Skull: Cited as a key part of the Edinburgh keel, thus being unique to the Scottish ship
Captain’s logbooks from the three months in August 1900 when the ship reached the shores of Libya. The last entry is a log of a group of slaves found on the ship; their identity and fate are unknown
Priceless mens’ astral glasses, including the ones worn by Angus MacKay, the HMS Midnite’s captain