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With the advent of modern shipping, the laws of demand and supply has been dictating the size of vessels according to the type of cargo it is specialized to carry. It is not by accident that the size of vessel by its cargo type is directly proportional to the ranking of commodities in the global commodity index. Going by this inference, it is no surprise that the largest vessel carriers belong to the class of liquid bulk carriers, particularly crude oil tankers- crude oil is the most traded commodity in the world. This is closely followed by container carriers which services the routes that takes care of manufactured goods supply. With this in mind, let us take a cursory look at the largest ocean vessels by cargo type.

1. TI Class Supertankers:

Basic Information:

Tonnage: 234,000 GT | 162,477 NT

Length: 380 m | 1,247 ft

Beam: 68 m | 223 ft

Draught: 24.52 m | 80.46 ft

Capacity: 441,585 DWT | 3,166,353 barrels

Speed: 16.5 knots laden, 17.5 knots in-ballast

TI Europe

Among this class are the following vessels- TI Africa, TI Asia, TI Europe & TI Oceania. They are among the largest operational Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) oil tankers. They were commissioned in 2002/3. They were all constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea for shipping company Hellespon.

All four were built for Hellespont by DSME in 2002-2003, and they were purchased in 2004 by Euronav and OSG. Two of the ships – the former TI Asia and TI Africa – have since been converted to FSOs and deployed at the Al Shaheen field off Qatar. The TI Europe is anchored off Malaysia and used for floating storage on a charter to Statoil.

2. HMM Algeciras:

Basic Information:

Tonnage: 228,283 GT

LOA: 399.9 m | 1,312 ft

Beam: 61 m | 200 ft 2 in

Draught: 15.525 m | 54 ft 2.6in

Capacity: 23,964 TEU

The HMM Algeciras is one of the High Capacity Container Vessels (HCCV) built for the HMM container shipping company. HMM is currently the 8th largest container line in terms of vessel capacity. The Algeciras class is made up of 12 vessels in total. They include:  HMM Algeciras, HMM Copenhagen, HMM Dublin, HMM Gdansk, HMM Hamburg, HMM Helsinki, HMM Le Havre, HMM Oslo, HMM Rotterdam, HMM Southampton, HMM Stockholm, HMM St Petersburg.

The first seven vessels each has capacity of 23,964TEU and were built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. The last five vessels each has capacity of 23,820 TEU and were  built by Samsung Heavy Industries.

3. MSC Gulsun:

Basic Information:

Tonnage: 232,618 GT | 228,149 NT

Length: 399.9 m | 1,312 ft

Beam: 61.5 m | 201 ft  9 in

Draught: 16.5 m | 54 ft 2 in

Capacity: 23,756 TEU

4. CSCL Globe:

Basic Information:

Tonnage: 186,000 GT

LOA: 400 m | 1,312 ft

Beam: 58.6 m | 192 ft

Draught: 15.5 m | 51 ft

Capacity: 19,000 TEU

This vessel belongs to the class of High Capacity Container Vessels (HCCV) ordered by China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL). There are five vessels in this category. Each has a capacity of 19,000 TEU.  They were built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. (HHI) in South Korea in 2013. They are servicing the Asia-Europe trade route.

CSCL GlobeThe CSCL Globe will feature a 77,200 bhp electronically controlled main engine to enhance fuel efficiency by automatically controlling fuel consumption according to the ship’s speed and sea conditions. With the installation of the high efficiency engine, the container ship will burn 20 percent less fuel per TEU in comparison with the 10,000 TEU container ships.

5. Maersk Triple E Class

Basic Information:

Tonnage: 165,000 Metric Tons Deadweight (DWT)

LOA: 400 m | 1,312 ft

Beam: 59 m | 194 ft

Draught: 14.5 m | 48 ft

Capacity: 18,000 TEU

Speed: 23 knots

Compared to the E-Class Container vessels, the Triple E vessels are 3 metres (9.8 ft) longer and 4 metres (13 ft) wider. They are also able to carry 2,500 more containers. One of the class’s main design features is its ability to lower fuel consumption by 37% and carbon dioxide emissions per container by 50%. The name “Triple E” is derived from the class’s three design principles: “Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved”. These ships are expected to be not only the world’s largest ships in service, but also the most efficient containerships per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) of cargo. By comparison the Triple E class could be likened to the Boeing 777x Series of Aircrafts in the Airline Industry. Both are geared towards higher freight / passenger carrying capacity at lower fuel consumption rate. Maersk awarded Daewoo Shipbuilding two US$1.9 billion contracts ($3.8bn total) to build twenty of the ships in 2011.

With a draft of 14.5 metres (48 ft), they are too deep to cross the Panama Canal, but can cross the Suez Canal when sailing between Europe and Asia.

Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller

6. CMA CGM Explorer Class

Basic Information:

Tonnage: 175,343 GT | 85,361 NT

LOA: 396 m | 1,299 ft

Beam: 53.6 m | 176 ft

Draught: 16 m | 52 ft

Capacity: 16,020 TEU

Speed: 25.1 knots | 46.5 km/h

The Explorer class is a series of large containerships built for CMA CGM. They are named after explorers. The first five ships are 365 m long with a nominal capacity of 13,300 TEU; the last three are larger, at 396 m and 16,020 TEU, making them the world’s largest containerships until the delivery of the CSCL Globe in November 2014.

CMA CGM Marco Polo was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in South Korea and it is the first in the series of three vessels. Her maiden voyage started on November 7th, 2012 in Ningbo, China.

7. Maersk E Class

 Basic Information:

Tonnage: 170,974 GT | 55,396 NT

Length: 397 m | 1,303 ft

Beam: 56 m | 184 ft

Draught: 15.5 m | 51 ft

Capacity: 156,907 DWT | 11,000 TEU

Speed: 25.5 knots | 47.2 km/h

The Maersk E Series comprises eight 14,770 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container ships. Each sister ship bear names beginning with the letter “E”. Until 2012, they were the largest container ship ever constructed, and are among the longest ships currently in use at 397 metres (1,302 ft) long and 56 metres (184 ft) wide. They are owned by the Danish A. P. Moller-Maersk Group. The first in the class built was Emma Maersk by Odense Steel Shipyard Ltd., Denmark. The E-class was followed by the Triple-E class, which is even larger and more fuel-efficient.

The original maximum capacity reported by Maersk was 11,000 TEU. However, by normal calculations, the maximum capacity is much greater – somewhere between 13,500 and 15,200 TEU. The difference between reported and estimated numbers is because of the difference in calculations between Maersk and other companies. Maersk calculates the capacity by the weight that can be carried on a vessel. Other companies calculate the capacity by the maximum number of containers the ship can take regardless of the actual weight of the containers. This way the estimated capacity is greater than the number reported by Maersk.

Estelle Maersk

8. MS Vale Brasil

Basic information:

Tonnage: 198,980 GT | 67,993 NT

LOA: 362 m | 1,188 ft

Beam: 65 m | 213 ft

Draught: 23m | 75 ft

Capacity: 402,347 DWT

Speed: 15.4 knots | 28.5 km/h

MS Vale Brasil is the largest bulk carrier ever built and among the longest ships currently in service. She is a “member” of Valemax fleet chartered by the Brazilian ore giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (VALE) to carry iron ore from Brazil to European and Asian ports.

MS Vale Brasil is the first of seven 400,000-ton Very Large Ore Carriers (VLOC) ordered by Vale and she was launched in December 2010.

In 2008 Vale placed orders for twelve 400,000-ton Valemax ships to be constructed by Jiangsu Rongsheng Heavy Industries (RSHI) in China and ordered seven more ships from South Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) in 2009.  Additionaly sixteen more ships of similar size will be built in China and South Korea for other shipping companies and chartered to Vale under long-term contracts.

MS Vale Brasil is significantly larger than the previous world’s largest bulk carrier Berge Stahl in every aspect. Both her gross tonnage and deadweight tonnage are larger than those of the Norwegian ship, 175,720 and 364,767 tons, respectively. While the draught of both ships is the same, Vale Brasil is also 20 metres (65.6 ft) longer and 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) wider than Berge Stahl. Additionaly Vale Brasil is larger and slightly longer than the four new 388,000-ton, 361-metre (1,184 ft) Chinamax bulk carriers Berge Bulk has ordered from China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation.

MS Vale Brasil is also the second largest ship currently in service by deadweight tonnage, second only to the TI class supertankers that have a deadweight tonnage of over 440,000 tons.

9. Q-Max Class of LNG Carriers

Basic Information:

Tonnage: 162,400 GT

LOA: 345 m | 1,132 ft

Beam: 53.80 m | 177 ft

Draught: 12 m | 39 ft

Capacity: 266,000 cubic meter | 9,393,701 cubic feet

Speed: 19.5 knots

Fourteen Q-Max ships have been built: Mozah, Al Mayeda, Mekaines, Al Mafyar, Umm Slal, Bu Samra, Al-Ghuwairiya, Lijmiliya, Al Samriya, Al Dafna, Shagra, Zarga, Aamira and Rasheeda. They are all operated by Nakilat (Qatar Gas Transport Company) and they were built by three different builders: Samsung Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

Q-Max Ships

In their name Q-Max, “Q” stands for Qatar and “Max” for the maximum size of ship able to dock at the LNG terminals in Qatar.


The first Q-Max LNG carrier, Mozah, was built in November 2007. The naming ceremony was held on 11 July 2008 at Samsung Heavy Industries’ shipyard in South Korea.

9. Oasis Class Cruise Ships

Basic Information:

Tonnage: 225,282 GT

LOA: 360 m | 1,181 ft

Beam: 47 m | 154 ft

Draught: 9.3m | 31 ft

Capacity: 5,400 passengers @ double occupancy; 6,296 maximum (with 2,394 crew members)

Speed: 22.6 knots | 41.9 km/h | 26.0 m/h

The world’s largest cruise ships (and passenger ships in general) are Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. These ships belong to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class formerly known as Project Genesis.

The Symphony of the Seas was built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France. It was formally handed over to the Royal Caribbean International on the 23rd of March, 2018. It has a gross tonnage of 228,081 GT.

Like her sister vessel, the Harmony of the Seas was built by at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France. It was built by STX France for the Royal Caribbean International Company. It was formally handed over on the 12th of May 2016. It boasts a gross tonnage of 226,963 GT.

Both the Oasis o the Seas and Allure of the Seas were ordered in February 2006 at STX Europe shipyard in Turku, Finland.

First in a series, Oasis of the Seas, was completed and turned over to Royal Caribbean on 28 October 2009. Her sistership, Allure of the Seas, left the Turku shipyard on 29 October 2010.

Oasis of the Seas

Althought those two ships have identical superstructures, the Allure is 50 millimetres (2.0 in) longer than the Oasis, which is making her technically the largest cruise ship in the world. The both have gross tonnages of 225,282 GT.

Allegedly, with the building costs of € 900 million (US$1.24 billion), the Oasis of the Seas is the most expensive commercial ship ever built.