Despite the energy crisis, the oil tanker ran on oil, rather than fusion. It is probable that converting such a vessel was deemed too expensive (since as long as there was some oil, the payload would be valuable enough to justify the fuel cost) or simply that it was impossible due to the limitations of the fledgling fusion technology. However, while utilizing outdated technology as propulsion, the tanker was fully automated and equipped with a navigational computer secured by a door operated with a magnetic tanker FOB. Additionally, the ship was equipped with an IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) transponder, preventing Poseidon Oil defenses from sinking it.
After its abandonment, various creatures have taken residence in the tanker (though some say they were deliberately placed there by the Enclave). These included centaurs, floaters and wanamingos. A band of vagrants eventually occupied the deck of the tanker, forcing the creatures to remain in the holds. The vagrants formed a community, using the vessel as their home, turning it into a simple settlement, selling various scavenged items to visitors.
The community was led by captain A. Ron Meyers, a Navarro technician gone AWOL, "a tough old military guy" (as described by Marc). The second community leader was Badger, the local hacker and electronics specialist. The vagrants themselves are a diverse collective of solitary wanderers, social outcasts and survivalists from across the wasteland. The vagrants emigrated to San Francisco for the tolerance and respect for secrecy there.
Exxon Valdez was the original name of an oil tanker owned by the former Exxon Corporation. It gained widespread infamy after the March 24, 1989 oil spill in which the tanker hit Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef and spilled an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil.