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What is the World's Largest Ship?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 21, 2024
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The largest ship ever built is the Knock Nevis, a supertanker 458 meters (1504 ft) in length and 69 m (226 ft) in width. Its dry weight is 564,763 tonnes, 647,955 tonnes when fully loaded with oil. Built between 1979 and 1981 in Oppama shipyard in Japan, this ship is larger and heavier than the Empire State Building on its side. For over a decade it has been the world's largest ship by a significant margin, although its current function is only as an FSO (floating storage and offloading unit).

When fully loaded, the Knock Nevis' structure reaches 24.6 m (81 feet) underwater, so deep that it cannot navigate the English channel, much less the Panama and Suez canals. This also prevents it from docking at many of the world's major ports.

The Knock Nevis is more than twice than tonnage of the 2nd largest ship in the world, which weighs in at only 170,974 tons. At one point there were seven other ships with a tonnage over 500,000, but they have since all been scrapped. Knock Nevis is more than twice the size of typical oil tankers, such as the ill-fated Exxon Valdez.

Prior names the ship has borne include the Happy Giant, Seawise Giant, and Jahre Viking. Although initially built for a Greek customer, the ship was rejected due to vibration problems stemming from faulty gear design. Thus the ship was sold to Chinese interests and had its length extended, at which point it became the largest ship ever built.

The ship's typical route was to deliver oil to the USA from the Middle East, although Knock Nevis was used as a floating storage and offloading unit during the Iran-Iraq war, when it was damaged by a fighter jet. The ship was repaired at great expense in Singapore, and sold to a Norweigan company. After going through a series of renamings, the ship was eventually stationed at the Qatar Al Shaheen oil field, located in the Persian Gulf, for good, as a storage platform.

Despite its massive size, when the Knock Nevis was in operation, it was maintained by a crew of just 40.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By subway11 — On Sep 16, 2010

Greenweaver-I heard about that cruise ship. I also know that they will be adding a sister ship to the fleet called, “Allure”.

Allure will look exactly like Oasis, but it will feature a different show. Oasis offered Hairspray, while Allure will feature the musical, “Chicago”.

The first sailing should be toward the end of the year in December. I think that once you go on the Oasis cruise, it is so hard to go on any other cruise because how can you compare anything to that cruise ship?

There is something for everyone, especially those looking for an active vacation.

By GreenWeaver — On Sep 16, 2010

Crispety-You know I got a chance to go on the Oasis cruise. It is the largest passenger ship.

You have to see it to believe it. What I loved besides the amenities like the zip line, in which you can propel from one end of the ship to another, were the shows.

I also enjoyed the rock climbing wall along with the ice skating rink.

But my favorite thing was the shows. They had a water show in which the acrobats perform all kinds of stunts. In addition, they have this amazing ice skating show called, “Frozen in Time”.

The theme of the show revolved around fairy tales and was actually acted out on the ice. I saw that show twice because it was so good. The skaters were mainly from Russia and were expert skaters.

Although this is considered the largest cruise ship, everything ran so smoothly especially the embarkation and departure.

By Crispety — On Sep 16, 2010

Royal Caribbean’s largest ship is actually the largest cruise ship in the world. Oasis of the Seas is considered the world’s largest cruise ship.

It has seventeen floors and accommodates up to 6,000 passengers. It has three pools including a wave pool for stand up surfing.

They also have over 24 restaurants and several neighbors like Central Park which mirrors the famous New York landmark.

Also, there is a carnival area with rides that looks similar to an updated Coney Island. This ship has so many things to do you will never be bored.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology...
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