"Whale oil seems to have acted as a preservative, providing most whaleships with lives much longer than that of a typical merchant vessel. Still, there were limits. Rot, teredo worms, and a condition called iron sickness, in which the ship's rusted iron fastenings weakened the oak, were all potential problems." --Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, 19
Some conservators I know call this inherent vice--when the materials that make up an object hasten its deterioration, such as brass fittings on leather.