Some of the largest ships in the world come in the form of oil tankers, cargo carriers, and cruise liners. These mega machines are marvels of engineering and contribute to over 90 percent of the world's transported goods, not to mention people. Who says that size doesn't matter?
The sheer sight of one of these supertankers up close makes one realize the true gravity of the manufacturing and design techniques involved in the construction process. These monumental machines require massive propulsion systems. Some diesel, some nuclear, some wind and even some solar-powered.
Ships come in various sizes for different applications. Some require large diesel engines for efficient long-distance container transport while naval vessels incorporate nuclear propulsion systems in order to remain at sea for months on end. But no matter the method of propulsion, the engineering behind these machines is quite spectacular.
These vessels are not so eco-friendly. Shipping contributed to almost 1,4 billion tons of carbon dioxide (in 2008), nearly 6% of the total carbon dioxide emissions and twice that of air transport. For this reason, more ships are being fitted with fuel-efficient engines and hybrid systems.
For a quick peek at the top 9 ships, you can also take a look at this video;
Here is a list of a few of the largest ships in existence.
1. Knock Nevis
The longest ship ever built was an oil tanker known as the Knock Nevis. The Knock Nevis, or Mont by which it was later named on its last voyage, was a ULCC supertanker that was eventually decommissioned in 2009.
The Knock Nevis was the largest moving man-made object on the planet. From stern to bow the ship was longer than the Empire State Building's height. The ship spanned 458.45 m (1,504 ft) and had a staggering gross tonnage of 260,941 GT (214,793 NT).
Knock Nevis was originally built in 1979 by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Japan. In 1988 the ship was damaged in the Iran-Iraq war in the Strait of Hormuz and later repaired under the name Happy Giant.
She was later bought by the Norwegian Jorgen Jahre in 1991 and renamed Jahre Viking where she served for 13 years. Eventually, she was purchased by First Olsen Tankers and renamed the Knock Nevis.
The 35 crew ship had a cruising speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) and was propelled by a single propeller, 9 m (30 ft) in diameter. The Nevis took 9 km (~5.5 miles) to slow down from cruising speed to stand still and had a turning circle of 3 km (~2 miles).
2. TI Class Supertankers
The largest oil tankers still in operation are the TI Class supertankers. The Tankers International L.L.C's fleet consists of the TI Africa, TI Asia, TI Europe, and TI Oceania.
The mega tankers were constructed by the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in Okpo, South Korea in 2003 for the company Hellespont.
The TI range is 78 m (256 ft) shorter than the previously mentioned Knock Nevis at 'only' 380 m (1,247 ft) in length.
The TI range has a tonnage of 234,006 GT (162,477 NT) and can cruise at 16.5 knots (30.5 km/h; 18.9 mph) fully laden.
The TI ships were first named the Hellespont Alhambra, Hellespont Fairfax, Hellespont Metropolis and Hellespont Tara but were bought over by Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) and Euronav NV, a Belgian shipowner, in 2004, whereby giving them their new names.
TI Asia and TI Africa were converted into FSO oil storage vessels in 2010. However, TI Europe and TI Oceania are still in operation as ULCC's.
3. Q-Max ships
The world's largest membrane type liquefied natural gas carriers are the Q-Max ships. They have a gross tonnage of 162,400 GT and span 345 m (1,132 ft) in length. The Q-max ships have a capacity of 266,000 cubic meters (9,393,701 cubic feet) and travel at 19.5 knots (36.114 km/h, 22.4 mph).
There are fourteen Q-Max ships in circulation and bare the names: Al Mayeda, Al Mafyar, Umm Slal, Bu Samra, Al-Ghuwairiya, Lijmiliya, Al Samriya, Al Dafna, Mozah, Mekaines, Shagra, Zarga, Aamira, and Rasheeda. The ships were built by Samsung Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The first ship (Mozah) was completed in 2007 and the naming ceremony took place at the Samsung Heavy Industries' shipyard in South Korea.
The Q-Max ships all operate under the Qatari gas transport company called Nakilat. The Q-Max ships are the largest ships that are able to dock at the LNG terminals in Qatar and hence their name bears the "Max" suffix.
4. CSCL Globe
In November 2014, a naming ceremony was held for the world's biggest ship for container transport, the CSCL Globe. The CSCL Globe was the first of five 19,000 TEU container ships ordered by China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) in 2013.
The CSCL Globe was purchased from Hyundai Heavy Industries and set to be deployed on the Asia-Europe trade loop. The mega-ship spans a length of 400 m (1,312 ft) and has a gross tonnage of 186,000 GT.
The CSCL Globe is propelled by a 77,200 bhp electronically controlled main engine that is said to compare in engine efficiency to other 10,000 TEU container ships. The engine burns 20 percent less fuel per TEU as a result of the feedback it receives from sea conditions.
Maersk awarded the Daewoo Shipbuilding company two contracts involving 20 Maersk Triple E Class container ships at roughly US$200 million per ship in 2011.
The CSCL Globe is slightly bigger than the Maersk Triple E Class container ship which has a capacity of 18,000 TEU compared to the Globes 19,000 TEU. The Maersk Triple E Class is similar in length and can cruise at 23 knots.
Triple E stands for the design principles that the ships are built on: Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved. The Maersk ships are currently the most efficient container ships in service.
5. Oasis of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas along with Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, formerly known as 'Project Genesis', are the largest passenger ships or cruise ships in existence made by Royal Caribbean company.. They were built in 2009, 2010 and 2015 respectively.
The cruise liners extend 360 m (1,181 ft) long and can accommodate a maximum of 6,296 passengers in addition to its 2,394 crew members. These ships are the fastest of our big league at 22.6 knots (41.9 km/h; 26.0 mph) with a gross tonnage of 225,282 GT.
The cruise liners have enough recreational activities to keep families occupied for weeks on end. The ships incorporate two FlowRider surf simulators, a zip line that is 25 m (82 ft) across and nine decks high, an ice-skating rink, two 13 m (43 ft) high rock-climbing walls, swimming pools, a full-sized basketball court, and even a water park.
Oasis of the Seas is estimated to have cost roughly € 900 million (US$1.24 billion) making it the most expensive commercial ship ever built.
Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas facilitate Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises for seven nights and to be a passenger on one of these giants is truly a spectacular experience. No wonder it's so popular!
6. RMS Queen Mary 2
The world's largest transatlantic ocean liner is the RMS Queen Mary 2. This floating wonder succeeds Queen Elizabeth 2 and is the first major ocean liner built since 1969. Named by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 after the first Queen Mary, which was completed in 1936. The Queen Mary 2 is currently the only transatlantic ocean liner in service that operates between Southampton and New York. However, the ship is used for the annual world cruise as a passenger cruise ship.
The RMS Queen Mary 2 has a stern to bow length of 345 m (1,132 ft) and a gross tonnage of 148,528 GT. She can accommodate 2,620 passengers in addition to her 1,253 crew members at a speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph). Although the Queen Mary 2 is 15 m (50 ft) shorter than larger cruise liners, she remains the largest Ocean liner ever built.
The difference between an Ocean Liner and a Cruise Liner is that the former is built for the purpose of transporting passengers from one destination to another, whereas a Cruise Liner takes passengers on a journey and land up in the same port.
That's not the only difference. Ocean Liners, which are designed to travel long voyages, often encounter severe weather. For this reason, the ship has to be built stronger than Cruise Liners with a narrow and deep bow.
Cruise Liners often circle holiday destinations and therefore have less chance of encountering harsh sea conditions. They can, therefore, be built with a shorter and wider bow which allows them to dock in more ports. In addition, the box shape also allows the ship to hold more passengers.
As speed is not a major concern for Cruise Liners, they tend to be more fuel-efficient than Ocean Liners.
The Queen Mary 2 is currently the only transatlantic ocean liner in service since Queen Elizabeth 2's retirement in 2008.
7. USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
No, not Star-Trek's Starship. When it comes to warships, USS Enterprise is the largest ship in existence. It is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier formerly known as the CVA(N)-65.
This ship has quite a history and up to this day remains an engineering wonder. Eighth in line to bear the name, the USS Enterprise spans 342 m (1,122 ft) long, making it the longest naval vessel in operation at the time. The ship carries 4,600 military personnel and can cruise at 33.6 knots (38.7 mph; 62.2 km/h).
The USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was scheduled for decommissioning in 2013 after 51 years of consecutive service. This is longer than any other U.S. aircraft carrier to date.
As the world has changed at such a grand compared to the 1960s, even a ship that was at the pinnacle of technology had to eventually be laid to rest.
8. The Club Med 2
Launched in 1992 in Le Havre, France, The Club Med 2 is one of the largest sail ships in the world. The ship itself is 194 m (636 ft) in length with a tonnage of 14,983 tons. The ship can accommodate 386 passengers in addition to the 214 crew members. Club Med 2 has a cruising speed of 10–15 knots (19–28 km/h) and currently operates as a cruise ship. She sails through the waters of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea during summer, and the Caribbean in the winter.
She has five masts which are electronically-positioned for maximum efficiency. In addition, she combines the power of the seven computer-operated sails with two electric motors powered by four diesel generators. This hybrid system allows the Club Med 2 to alternate between fuel and clean energy.
Club Med 2's sister ship, Club Med 1 was sold to Windstar Cruises in 1998 and renamed my Wind Surf.
The ship's relatively shallow hull, compared to larger cruise ships allow for anchorages closer to land. The ship sails through the night making a stop each morning. She provides various recreational activities such as ballroom dancing, bridge, music shows, water sports and plenty more.
The Club Med 2's European destinations include ports in the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and the Aegean Sea. Transatlantic voyages are offered in the spring (eastbound) and fall (westbound) and are great experiences for all those who love life.
9. Planet Solar
Something not often used in the shipping industry is solar power. The large surface area required for the panels make it difficult to incorporate into transportation ships.
However, the team at PlanetSolar has developed a 31 m (100 ft) long, 15 m (50 ft) wide craft that is able to capture nearly 103.4 kW of solar energy to power its 20kW engine. The boat can cruise at an average speed of 8 knots (15kph or 9mph).
The 60-tonne catamaran costs 18 million euros (US$24.4 million) and is the largest solar-powered boat in the world. It was designed by LOMOcean Design and built at the Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel, Northern Germany. The boat was successfully launched in 2010, after 14 months of construction. To achieve maximum photovoltaic potential the boat features solar covered extension flaps that protrude from port and starboard of the boat.
SunPower provided approximately 38,000 next-generation, all-black photo-voltaic cells that were used on the surface of the boat. The solar panels have an acclaimed efficiency of 22 percent, which they believe to be the highest efficiency solar cells available on the market.
The project was conceived by Raphaël Domjan, who with Frenchman Gérard dAboville, made the world's first trip around the world solely powered by solar energy. Their trip ended on the 4th of May 2012, covering a distance of more than 60 000 km (37,000 miles).
Although not intended to replace conventional water-crafts, the PlanetSolar team applauds the fact that their boat was the first to circumvent the world on solar power alone.
Did we miss any ship? Make sure to let us know!
Written by Terry Berman