The Liparus was a supertanker owned by shipping magnate Karl Stromberg. Surpassed in size only by the Soviet tanker Karl Marx, the ship's huge capacity was not used to transport oil, but rather was used to capture and store Western and Soviet nuclear submarines. The ship was destroyed during a prisoner breakout and the subsequent battle for control of the ship. It appears in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me.
Launched nine months before the film takes place, the Liparus was the latest and greatest addition to the Stromberg shipping-line. With a displacement of one million tons it was surpassed in size only by the Soviet tanker Karl Marx.
Arriving in Sardinia, Bond and his Soviet counterpart, Anya Amasova visit Stromberg's base and learn of the mysterious new supertanker. The shape of its bow and absence of any port calls in months raises questions and with the help of Q they track it down.
Hunting her down with the help of the USS Wayne they suffer the same fate as the HMS Ranger and the Soviet submarine Potemkin who were swallowed by the Liparus. The tanker's purpose becomes evident as Stromberg lays out his plans for global annihilation through the use of his captured submarines and their payload of Polaris nuclear missiles. Escorted from the ships control room Bond manages to get free and release the imprisoned sailors of the submarines. While Stromberg departs for Atlantis, a devastating battle for control of the ship breaks out and comes to an end as Stromberg's crew are overwhelmed and access to the control room has been gained. After taking many damages from the battle, the Liparus begins to founder. Bond and the Submariners escape on the USS Wayne which had been left unused by Stromberg as Liparus explodes and sinks behind them.
Specifications & crew
Internally the ship had been made up of several compartments. The main ones seen by the audience consisted of the cavernous submarine pen, control room, prisoner quarters, missile storage and armoury. We are never shown any of the other parts inside the Liparus but it is probably safe to assume that the rest of the ship contained living and working quarters for the countless guards and crew. Weapons onboard the tanker consisted of cyanide gas, which Stromberg threatens to use if the crews refused to leave their submarines, grenades, sub-machine guns, harpoons, flame throwers and of course, the captured missiles. Very much like the Volcano in You Only Live Twice, the Liparus has a monorail system which carries the ship's crew around. The train could also be turned into a speedboat, which the audience sees Stromberg use when leaving for Atlantis.
The Captain of the Liparus stands out as being a calm, sympathetic and non-threatening character as opposed to other villainous henchmen in the bond universe during his time on screen directing his crew and caring out Strombergs orders. He goes down with his ship after being killed during Bonds siege on the control room.
Behind the ScenesPrior to filming, the use of a Shell supertanker had been offered free of charge to the production who had only to pay the insurance for the ship and its crew. This still proved prohibitively expensive at $60,000 a day, dangerous and altogether impractical as the vapour from residual oil is toxic and explosive. In addition, the empty ship would sit too high in the water to look like it contained submarines weighing in at a combined tonnage of several thousand tons. It was thus decided to use model-work shot in the Bahamas by Special Effects creator Derek Meddings.
The exterior of the Liparus was modeled on a Shell supertanker of the same name, bow and all. It was built as a catamaran in order to swallow the model submarines and was provided with an Evinrude outboard motor to give it a convincing wake. According to Bond production designer Ken Adam, the model was around 80 feet long in order to create the visual illusion of size next to real waves.
Filming The Liparus' cavernous interior required the construction of the now famous 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios, opened by actor Roger Moore and British PM Harold Wilson at its completion on December 5, 1976. The actual studio was designed to be part of the set and is still the largest in the world after two extensions after as many fires. While the stage was huge it was not big enough to house three life sized submarines which were therefore scaled down to “only” two thirds of their actual size.
- Frayling, Christopher. Ken Adam: The Art of Production Design (page 181) at Google Books
- Newton, Matthew. (8 March 2004) "The Spy Who Loved Me" at the Bond Film Informant
- Young, Cy. (14 September 1995) "Obituary: Derek Meddings" The Independent
- Trivia: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) at IMDb