The Biggest Ships in the World, Part 2

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4. Supertanker Knock Nevis/ Jahre Viking – big ship with a big story



(Photo collection Dag Bjerke, via Supertankers)

This is the king of all supertankers, and possibly the biggest ship ever constructed (see French tankers on page 1, competing for this title). However, it is certainly the BIGGEST SHIP still in operation (albeit as a “floating storage and offloading unit” only). There is also a larger-than-life story associated with that ship.

First of all, it had more pseudonyms than Alexandre Dumas:
– “Seawise Giant”
– “Porthos”
– “Happy Giant”
– “Jahre Viking”
– “Knock Nevis”

Built in Japan in 1979 for a Greek shipping magnate, who went bankrupt shortly thereafter, she was sold to the Hong Kong owner, who promptly increased her length even more. In 1981 “The Seawise Giant” was born, biggest among ships.

To give you some idea of her size, compare with London’s Tower Bridge:

Cruise Ships, Cruise Travel

… with Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower:

At first, she operated between the Middle East and the USA but from about 1986 she was used as a floating storage ship and transhipment terminal in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. In May, 1988, the ship was attacked and heavily damaged by bombs dropped from Iraqi jetswhile lying at the Iranian Hormuz terminal in the Strait of Hormuz. Check out the fire and damage photos here. Extensively damaged, she sank in the shallow waters there.

But the story does not end here. Miraculously, she gained a second life and a full restoration! “The Sea Wise Giant”, or what remained of her, was bought by a Norwegian company, re-floated, and towed to the Keppel shipyard in Singapore. After major conversions and repairs she was relaunched in 1991 first as the “Happy Giant”, and then as the “TT Jahre Viking”. Here is a photo of restoration (click to enlarge):

In March 2004, the ship was sold again and sent by her new owner to the Dubai shipyard to be refitted as a floating storage and offloading unit (FSO). There, she was given her current name, “Knock Nevis”. On the following photos we see her arrival at the docks – the final sea voyage of the great and legendary ship:



Sources: WikipediaThe Tribune.

The Heart of a Giant

Take a look at the biggest diesel engine in the world: these technological marvels are required to move such huge ships as the Knock Nevis, or the Emma Maersk (discussed in Part 3)

Cruise Ships, Cruise Travel

Want to see how huge container ships harrass small tug boats? Then, make sure to read to the end of this article… but first, let’s see what makes the biggest ships in the world “tick”:

The Largest Diesel Engine in the World

A couple of photos of a huge diesel engine at the end of Part 2 generated lots of interest, so we decided to dig up more info on that colossal beast:


(images via)

Its name is Wartsilä-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged diesel engine (see the company’s website for info); it has 14 cylinders with total output power of 80,080 kW or 108,920 bhp (your Jeep may have 300 bhp).

Its size is comparable to that of a small apartment building: width 26,7 meters, height 13,2 meters:


(image via)

An eighteen-cylinder version of this beast is considered, as well. Here is how the pistons look (they are one meter each in diameter):

Here’s a piston & piston rod assembly:




(images via)

Smaller versions of such engines power various supertankers and giant cargo ships:



(original unknown)

They must be also adapting these engines for interstellar Enterprise-type vessels, to battle Klingons more effectively… In any case, a few years ago, in September 2006 a huge 14-cylinder diesel engine was put into service aboard the “Emma Maersk” cargo ship:

Witness “EMMA MAERSK” – The Biggest Container Ship in the World

Crowds watch the arrival of this huge vessel in Rotterdam. The ship can carry between 11,000 and 14,500 containers and is 400 meters long. (for comparison, the Empire State Building is 445 meters tall):






(images credit: Jesper T. Andersen and Christian Hansen)

Some serious size and muscle there, you have to admit. A slightly smaller ship, the “MSC Pamela” looks almost as imposing:



(images credit: Jesper T. Andersen)

To give you a better idea of their scale… Here are some pics that illustrate how big these ships are:



(images credit: N. SchulteissMarineTalk)

On the image above right is the World’s Largest Propeller, built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). It’s 101.5 tons in weight and 9.1 meters in diameter – as large as a 3-story building.

Hey, careful with that container!!!!


(original unknown)

The image above may be Photoshop, but this one is real:

Now… marvel at this group of people (somewhere around Somalia), who decided to by-pass all cargo cranes entirely, demonstrating supreme PERSONAL CONTAINER MANAGEMENT:



(probably container stealing is underway here)

While in seaport, pay respect to tough little tugboats scuttling around: some of them are miserably overworked –


(image via)

…they have to go in the big ships’ wakes:


(images via)

They’re even “abused” by larger ships – like a little tug in this video, which did not see the ANCHOR coming:

And, for all their hard work, tugboats only end up crushed between the larger ships if they are not nimble enough: here are photos of one such boat after being man-handled by a freighter –

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