The Biggest Ships Ever to Set Sail

When the subject of the big ships is raised it is generally assumed that we are talking about the modern era. Nothing that sailed before the year 1900 came close to rivalling the massive super tankers or warships of the 20th Century.

Which Ship is the Largest?

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Ships are measured in three categories. You can look at the length, the weight, or the displacement, which is the amount of water that a ship has to displace in order to be able to float. Ships also fall into three categories: warships, cargo ships, and passenger ships. All of the top ten longest and heaviest ships ever launched are cargo ships. Topping this list is the Knock Nevis, a super tanker owned by Norway’s Fred Olsen Productions which is 458.5 metres long and displaces 564,763 DWT (dead weight tons).

Rounding Out the Top Ten

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Eight of the remaining top ten longest ships made are super tankers. The only exception in the top ten is the Emma Maersk, a container ship that is 397 metres long. She ranks number four on the overall list. The tenth ranked ships on that list are the Jarmada class super tankers which measure out at 373.5 metres, just 13.5 metres longer than Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas” and thirty-one meters longer than the Enterprise Class aircraft carriers in service for the United States Navy.

Largest Warships on the Seas

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Ships of war have been responsible for the testing and implementation of new technology for centuries. The military always seems to get the best of everything before the private sector even knows it exists. The technology needed for GPS navigation and wireless signals has been available far longer than average people have had access to it. Shipbuilding is no different. The top ten largest warships are all aircraft carriers, eight of which are operated by the United States, one by Great Britain, and one by Russia.

Tough Luck for Eleven through Twenty

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The aircraft carriers in the top ten are all fairly new, but if you go back a little further to the ships ranked eleven through twenty you’ll find an interesting statistic. Of those ten ships, seven of them have been sunk. Two of those are actually rather famous: The Akagi, a Japanese aircraft carrier that was involved in the attack on Pearl Harbour; and the Bismarck, the famous German warship sunk by the British Navy in 1941.

Top Ten Cruise Ships

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The longest cruise ships in the world are the “Oasis of the Seas” (360 metres) and her sister ship the “Allure of the Seas” (launching in 2010).  The “RMS Queen Mary 2” ranks third (345 metres) and Royal Caribbean’s “Freedom of the Seas” and “Liberty of the Seas” (both 339 metres) round out the top five. Numbers six through ten are the “Independence of the Seas” (339 metres), MSC Splendida (333 metres), MSC Fantasia (333 metres), Celebrity Solstice (315 metres) and Celebrity Equinox (315 metres).

Where would the Titanic rank today?

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The Titanic was 268 metres long and was considered unsinkable. Obviously that was not the case. Today’s ships are sturdier and the technology used to navigate them is far better than it was in 1912. The iceberg that was the bane of the Titanic would have been detected with today’s equipment and the accident could have been avoided. All of the larger cruise ships on the water today are equipped with the best tracking and navigation equipment on the market.

A Floating Resort Island on the Sea

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The “Oasis of the Seas” carries over 5000 passengers and houses a shopping mall, a park with over 12,000 plants and trees, and a sports deck with a full basketball court, flow-riders, and an eighteen hole miniature golf course. There are staterooms available that overlook either the park or the ocean and there are Jacuzzis that hang over the side of the ship fifteen decks up. This massive floating city is most likely the most impressive shipbuilding creation yet. Can someone come up with something bigger and better? If they do it may not fit into a harbour or dry dock anywhere. They may have to install helipads to get passengers on and off the ship.

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