Largest Ship Ever Built

The largest ship ever built is the supertanker The Knock Nevis. The largest ship ever built is nearly half a kilometer long and could house four cathedrals in its hold.

The answer to the question what is the largest ship ever built depends upon the measure used.

In terms of dead-weight and physical volume The Knock Nevis is the largest ship ever built.  This supertanker has an overall length of 458.45 m (1,504 ft) and a draft of 24.6m (81ft) when fully loaded.  The vessel is so large that she is unable to navigate the English Channel, the Suez Canal or the Panama canal.  The hold could contain four replicas of St Paul’s cathedral simultaneously.  The ship takes 5.5 miles to draw to a halt and requires a turning circle of  over 2 miles.

In terms of gross tonnage, The Knock Nevis is the fifth largest ship ever built at 236,710 gross tons. The four Batillus-class supertankers rank as the largest self-propelled objects ever constructed.  The Batillus and her sister ship the Bellamya each had a gross tonnage of 275,276 tons.  This class had a length of 414 metres, 44 metres less than that of The Knock Nevis.  The Batillus and Bellamya were built in 1986 at the shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint Nazaire in France.  The Batillus was scrapped in 1976.  The Bellamya was scrapped in 1986.

The Knock Nevis has been known as the Seawise Giant, the Happy Giant and the Jahre Viking.  These reflect changes of ownership and use during the vessel’s thirty year career.

When built by Sumitomo Heavy Industries in 1979 the ship was known as the Seawise Giant.  The original vessel to be built for a Greek ship owner was intended to have a smaller tonnage than the Batillus class.  When the shipowner became bankrupt the shipyard sold the unfinished vessel to a Hong Kong shipping magnate.  The new owner, C.Y.Tung, asked for the vessel to be lengthened to increase capacity.  The enlarged vessel was launched in 1981. 

The Seawise Giant operated initially in the Gulf of Mexico.  During the Iran-Iraq War the vessel was used to export oil from Iran.  In 1986 the supertanker was attacked in the Strait of Hormuz by Iraqi aircraft armed with Exocet missiles. The ship was declared a total loss and laid up in Brunei.  When the war ended in 1989 the ship was finally  re-floated, towed to the Keppel shipyard in Singapore and repaired.  By October 1991 the tanker was re-floated and renamed the Happy Giant.  

During 1991 the ship was purchased by Jorden Jahre. This operator renamed the ship the Jahre Viking. The shear size of the ship meant that it was difficult to operate. Only a handful of ports had appropriate facilities.

Jorden Jahre sold the ship to First Olsen Tankers Pte Ltd in 2004. First Olsen renamed the ship Knock Nevis and converted into a permanently moored storage tanker. The ship acts as a storage facility for the Al Shaheen offshore oilfield in Qatar. 

The sheer enormity of the vessel can be seen in the following illustrations.

The vessel at Al Shaheen

 In comparison with well known skyscrapers.

If you have enjoyed this article you might like to look at some of my other writings:

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The Largest Submarine Ever Built

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The Tallest Buildings in the World Before 1900

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One Response to “Largest Ship Ever Built”
  1. Littlekid137 Says...

    On August 10, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Fantastic. What will humans come up with next.

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