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The world’s largest ships

Gigantism is a common trait across shipping with owning the largest of whichever type of vessel, be it a bulker, a tanker, containership, or gas carrier, a badge of honour, even if sometimes the economics are somewhat more dubious. Seatrade Maritime News has compiled a list of the largest vessels across various categories of vessel – most of which are still in service.

The largest containership – the megamax and the OOCL Hong Kong

ooclhk3Container shipping has undergone a relentless size war over the last two decades as lines have sought economies of scale. In 1996 the world’s largest containership was the 6,000 teu Regina Maersk, today the biggest boxships are well over three times that size. The current prize goes to the OOCL Hong Kong, owned by Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), which at 21,413 teu was the first vessel to break the 20,000 teu mark. The vessel is 399.8 m long, by 58.8 m across, with a depth of 32.5 m and 191,317 dwt.

Speaking at the naming of the OOCL Hong, Orient Overseas (International) Ltd chairman CC Tung said: “This is a very exciting time for all of us because today marks the first time that OOCL is receiving newbuildings in the 21,000 teu size.  In fact, the OOCL Hong Kong will be a titan among containerships at sea, with a carrying capacity at 21,413 teu.  An important milestone for us at OOCL indeed.

“While our industry seems to have the knack to ‘out do’ one another in building larger containerships relatively quickly these days, this project is nonetheless an important moment for us,” he added.

However, the OOCL Hong Kong’s days the world’s largest containership are already numbered with already have ordered a series of nine 22,000 teu boxships for delivery from the end of 2019. Vessels of over 18,000 teu have been dubbed megamaxes.

The world’s largest bulkers – the Valemax and the Vale Brasil

valechinaThe very large ore carriers (VLOCs) built for Brazilian miner Vale are the world’s largest bulkers topping out at 400,000 dwt. These giants of the seas were ordered when the dry bulk freight market had hit its peak of $300,000 per day in 2008 for a capesize and were designed keep Vale’s iron ore exports competitive given the high cost of freight and the longer distances from Brazil to China versus competing exporters based in countries such as Australia.

The first of the 400,000 dwt Valemaxes was the Vale Brasil, now the Ore Brasil, which came into service in 2011. The vessel was 362 m long, by 65 m breadth and 30.4 m in hull depth with a deadweight of 402,000 dwt.

Originally dubbed the Chinamax the ore carriers were not without their controversy being initially banned from Chinese ports, officially on safety grounds. The ban was later relented on with Chinese shipowners taking over some of the existing Valemax fleet. Designed to cope with an era of high freight rates for almost of their existence dry bulk charter rates have been at record lows. This has not stopped more from being ordered though, and the current fleet of 35 Valemaxes, which range from 380,000 – 400,000 dwt is set to increase to 66 in total.

The largest tanker – ULCC Jahre Viking

jahrevikingThe 564,763 dwt ultra large crude carrier Jahre Viking, as it was known for the majority of its life, was delivered in 1979 as the Seawise Giant from Sumitomo Industries in Japan. The largest tanker ever built it is the only vessel on our list that is no longer in service and was scrapped in 2010.

Some 458.45 m in length the Jahre Viking was to prove to be something of a white elephant reportedly never carrying a full cargo in its 20 years in service. Following its construction the very large crude carrier (VLCC) in the 300,000 dwt range was to become the standard size for the largest tankers dovetailing with the largest crude oil cargo sizes of 2m barrels or 300,000 tonnes.

The world’s LNG carriers – the Q-Maxqmaxes

The 266,000 cu m sized Q-Max vessels owned by Qatargas are the world’s largest LNG carriers. A total of 13 Q-Max vessels were built at Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and have membrane type cargo containment systems. The vessels have twin slow-speed diesel engines and are 345 m in length, 53.8 m in breadth, and 34.7 m in height. The Q-Maxes were delivered between 2008 and 2010. According to Qatargas the vessels have many innovative features to maximize cargo deliveries and to ensure the highest levels of safety and reliability. 

The world’s largest construction vessel – The Pioneering Spirit

pioneeringspiritThe Pioneering Spirit, formerly Pieter Schelte, owned by Swiss offshore contractor Allseas, is the largest construction vessel ever built. The twin hulled vessel was built at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in Korea and is 382 m in length by 124 m and features a 122 m long by 59 m slot between the two hulls enabling it to straddle a platform and remove entire topsides.

The vessel is capable of lifting 48,000 tonnes in a single lift and holds the current record for the largest single lift of 24,000 tonnes for the topsides of Shell’s Brent Delta platform.

The Pioneering Spirit is also the world’s largest pipelay vessel with an S-lay tension capacity of 2,000 tonnes, surpassing Allseas own pipelaying vessel Solitaire.

The world’s largest floating offshore facility – the Shell Prelude FLNG

Arriving offshore Australia in July 2017 Shell’s Prelude Floating LNG (FLNG) is the world’s largest floating offshore facility. Construction on the 600,000 tonne facility started in October 2012 and saw the fabrication and assembly of more than 260,000 tonnes of steel. The 488 m long floating facility is larger than four football fields and includes a 93 m high mooring turret.. It has an FLNG facility production capacity of at least 5.3m tonnes per annum (mtpa) of liquids: 3.6 mtpa of LNG, 1.3mtpa of condensate and 0.4mtpa of LPG. Currently in the hook-up phase Shell expects to see cashflow from operations in 2018. shellprelude

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