The Exxon Valdez, like most modern supertankers, was a study in contrasts. Carrying 53 million gallons of crude and nearly as long as the Chrysler building is tall, it was controlled by a crew smaller than many fishing boats'. Computer technology did most of the hard work, but – crucially – did not make decisions. The result was an inevitable mismatch between the high responsibility of the job and its low prestige: as long as nothing went wrong, sailing a supertanker was not that much more interesting or glamorous than driving a bus.
Bozo Sapiens (a blog I just discovered courtesy of Nina T.) has a very interesting post about the Exxon Valdez accident and routine :