April 25, 2024 | Allison Robertson

10 of the Biggest Ships in the World


Monsters of the Sea

The ocean has always been a stage for the world’s greatest engineering feats.

From massive oil tankers and shipping container vessels to colossal cruise ships with amusement parks on board—these are some of the biggest ships the world has ever seen.

World's Biggest Ships Split Gallery

Seawise Giant

The Seawise Giant was a ULCC supertanker, and the longest self-propelled ship in history. It was built between 1974 and 1979 by Sumitomo Heavy Industries in Japan.

Oil tankerUnknown Author, PxHere

Seawise Giant: Weight Capabilities

The Seawise carried the greatest deadweight tonnage every recorded. Full loaded, her displacement was 657,019 tons.

oil tankerbob63, Shutterstock

Seawise Giant: Size

The Seawise Giant had a laden draft of 24.6 m (81 ft) and a length of 1,504.10 ft—longer than the height of many of the world's tallest buildings. Her size made her incapable of navigating the English Channel, the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal.

Commercial oil tanker AbQaiqU.S. NAVY, Picryl

Seaswise Giant: Lifespan

The Seawise Giant served as an oil tanker shuttling large shipments from the Middle East to the USA. However, in 1988 it was a target of Saddam Hussein’s force and it sank.

In 1991 though, it was salvaged, fixed and put back to work until 2004 when it was deemed to difficult to maneuver and became a storage facility in Norway until it was sold for scrap in 2010.

Seawise Giant  - Singapore, 1990Nils Koch, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

OOCL Spain

In 2023, Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd (OOCL) introduced the first 24,188 TEU mega vessel to its fleet—a shipping container ship.

OOCL SpainNurPhoto, Getty Images

OOCL Spain: Size & Weight Capabilities

The OOCL Spain is just shy of 400 meters long (1312.34 ft) and is capable of carrying up to 235,341 tons, putting it in the ranks of the world's largest shipping vessels.

OOCL SpainVCG, Getty Images

OOCL Spain: Significance

The OOCL is one of the few ships in the world with a carrying capacity of over 24,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units or standard shipping containers), giving it a significant presence in the shipping world.

Container ship OOCL SpainOliver Hoffmann, Shutterstock

MSC Irina, MSC Loreto, and MSC Michel Cappellini

The current largest capacity shipping container ship in the world goes to the MSC Irina, along with its twins: the MSC Loreto and MSC Michel Cappellini.

The container ship MSC IRINA leaves the terminal in Qingdao, Shandong provinceCostfoto, Getty Images

Capacity

These magnificent vessels have a carrying capacity of 24,346 TEU. As some of the largest ships ever constructed, these additions to the MSC fleet significantly add to their staggering logistical potential.

Container Ship 'MSC Loreto'VCG, Getty Images

Significance

With the combination of these three mega-ships, the MSC company can ship 22.5 million TEU every year, combined with its fleet of over 700 ships of all sizes.

MSC currently holds the record for largest shipping vessel in the world.

MSC Michel CappelliniFajar Agung Purianto, Shutterstock

MSC Gülsün

Another MSC vessel breaking world records is the MSC Gülsün. Known for its length, capacity, and speed capabilities.

MSC Gülsünkees torn, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

MSC Gülsün: Capabilities

The MSC Gülsün has a total length that's just shy of 400 meters. It has a deadweight carrying capacity of 228,149 tons and a top speed of 21 knots.

MSC Gülsünkees torn, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

MSC Gülsün: Accommodations

When fully loaded, the MSC Gülsün can accommodate 23,756 shipping containers, and includes 2,000 refrigeration slots to ensure the safety of temperature-controlled goods.

Msc Gülsünkees torn, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

MSC Gülsün: Engine

In order to be able to transport such massive amounts of goods across the globe, the ship needs a great deal of power.

The MSC Gülsün is equipped with a MAN Diesel 11G95ME-C engine. One of the largest in the world, the engine measures approximately 22 meters in length and 18 meters in height.

Msc Gülsünkees torn, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Icon of the Seas

The Icon of the Seas is owned and operated by Royal Caribbean, and is currently the largest cruise ship in the world. In fact, it is five times the size of the Titanic. It set out on its maiden voyage in January of 2024—breaking several world records.

ICON OF THE SEASJouni Niskakoski, Shutterstock

Icon of the Seas: Capacity

The Icon of the Seas has 20 decks, 18 of which are solely dedicated to guests. There are over 2,800 different rooms of varying sizes and can accommodate a total of 5,610 guests (not including staff).

Icon Of The SeasChakie2, CC BY-SA 4.0 ,Wikimedia Commons

Icon of the Seas: Size & Engine Capabilities

The Icon of the Seas is 364.75 metres (1,196.7 ft) in length. It has six multi-fuel Wärtsilä engines; these can be powered with both LNG and distillate fuel.

Icon Of The SeasKahunapule Michael Johnson, CC BY-SA 2.0 ,Wikimedia Commons

Icon of the Seas: Record Breaking Features

This magnificent cruise ship boasts the tallest waterfall, the tallest water slide, the largest swim up bar, and the largest waterpark of any cruise ship. It also has the first suspended infinity pool of any ship.

Icon of the SeasJouni Niskakoski, Shutterstock

Icon of the Seas: Other Features

It also has a diving dome, an art installation, an ice-skating rink, a family neighborhood, a casino, zip lines, seven pools and six waterslides.

Icon Of The Sea at Port of MiamiFelix Mizioznikov, Shutterstock

USS Gerald R. Ford

The USS Gerald R. Ford is an American aircraft carrier, and an engineering wonder. Debuting in 2023, it’s the leading modern warship of its class, and the world's largest aircraft carrier.

USS Gerald R. FordMass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Adkins, Wikimedia Commons

USS Gerald R. Ford: Size and Capabilities

It measures about 333 meters in length, and can hold over 4,500 crew members and support staff, a full wing complement (75 aircraft), and support ground vehicles.

USS Gerald R. FordOfficial U.S. Navy Page, Flickr

USS Gerald R. Ford: Design

The USS Gerald R. Ford was designed with advanced new weapons systems and a new electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) that allows for a greater variety of planes to be launched from its deck.

USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Harry S. TrumanRama, CC BY-SA 3.0 FR , Wikimedia Commons

Symphony of the Seas

Another record-breaking cruise ship by Royal Caribbean is the Symphony of the Seas. This ship is designed with luxurious entertainment in mind.

Symphony of the seaselRoce, Shutterstock

Symphony of the Seas: Capacity

The Symphony of the Seas has 18 decks, 24 elevators, and can accommodate a whopping 6,680 guests and 2,200 staff members.

The Symphony Of The Seasbvi4092, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Symphony of the Seas: Engine Capabilities

The Symphony of the Seas has six engines in total: three 16-cylinder Wärtsilä 16V46D and three 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 12V46D engines.

Each engine is approximately the size of a shipping container and all work together to power the colossal ship.

Symphony of the seasSolarisys, Shutterstock

Symphony of the Seas: Features

The Symphony of the Seas boats an array of luxury amenities, such as spas, gardens, several pools and waterslides, an amusement park, playgrounds, theaters, and so much more.

Symphony of the seasSolarisys, Shutterstock

Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean did it again with another colossal cruise ship breaking records. The Wonder of the Seas surpasses the previous cruise ship mentioned, Symphony of the Seas, in size. It’s often referred to as a “floating city.”

Wonder Of The SeasJörg Fuhrmann, CC BY-SA 4.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Wonder of the Seas: Capacity

The Wonder of the Seas measures 1,188 feet (362 m) in length and has a gross tonnage of 236,857 across 18 decks. It has a guest capacity of 5,734 and a crew of 2,300.

Wonder of the Seas cruise shipEWY Media, Shutterstock

Wonder of the Seas: Features

The Wonder of the Seas has everything you could possibly imagine.

There are eight different neighborhoods on board, each boasting impressive amenities such as: a waterpark, a playground, a full-size basketball court, a zip line, a theater, rock-climbing walls, dog parks, and an on-board central park with more than 10,000 plans and flowers.

Wonder of the SeasJoe Shlabotnik, Flickr

Dockwise Vanguard/BOKA Vanguard

The Dockwise Vanguard—also known as the BOKA Vanguard—is a semisubmersible heavy-lift ship, and is the largest vessel of its kind ever built. It’s like the biggest and baddest tow truck of the sea.

Dockwise Vanguardkees torn, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Dockwise Vanguard: How It Works

The Dockwise Vanguard operates by taking on water as a ballast, allowing it to sink slightly and creating a space in its docking bay where it can then maneuver a ship in to secure it.

Once secured, the ship pumps out the ballast and lifts the other ship out of the water, safely within the Dockwise Vanguard.

Dockwise VanguardMEOGLOBAL Muhammed Enes Okullu, CC BY-SA 4.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Dockwise Vanguard: Size

The ship has a flat, bow-less deck measuring 70 by 275 m (230 by 902 ft), allowing cargo longer and wider than the deck. Her deck is 70% larger than the MV Blue Marlin, the third-largest heavy-lift ship.

She can lift and transport cargoes up to 110,000 tons.

Heavy lift vessel Dockwise Vanguardbiggunsband, Shutterstock

Dockwise Vanguard: Significance

The Dockwise Vanguard may not be the largest vessel in the water, but the sheer fact that it can carry vessels bigger than itself is amazing enough—including the insanely large cruise ships mentioned in this list.

Heavy lift vessel Dockwise VanguardRiekelt Hakvoort, Shutterstock

Evergreen Ever Apex

The Evergreen Ever Apex is Evergreen’s latest addition, launched in 2022. While it matches the same size and capabilities of it’s A-type siblings, it does have notable changes.

Evergreen Ever Apexpicture alliance, Getty Images

Evergreen Ever Apex: Size & Capabilities

The Ever Apex is just shy of 400 meters in length and is capable of carrying approximately 225,000 tons—which is the equivalent of hauling the weight of 45,000 elephants.

Evergreen Ever ApexWolfgang Fricke, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Evergreen Ever Apex: Significance

Evergreen’s A-type vessels are known as the largest of their kind in the world, carrying massive amounts of weight seamlessly through the sea. The Ever Apex is no different than its siblings, standing as a testament to human engineering.

Mount Fuji And Evergreen Container ShipAlpsdake, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons


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