Creating an ocean giant, in pictures

  1. The Pieter Schelte is the world’s biggest ship. But this outsized sea giant isn’t a supertanker, nor a container carrier. Its role is much more specialised – which is why it has to be such an enormous vessel.

    The ship – which set sail last weekend from South Korea to the Dutch port of Rotterdam – is an oil support vessel, designed to install or move oil rigs in the deep ocean, lay oil pipeline, or even help construct bridges. And it’s those heavy-lifting jobs that require it to be so big; the Pieter Schelte is 382 metres (1,260 ft) long, and 124 metres (406 ft) wide. So, how do you construct such a large ship from scratch?
  2. The vessel is essentially a giant catamaran, “based on the concept of joining two large tankers rigidly, with a slot at the bows to lift platforms in one piece,” according to Kristian Hall from the boat’s Swiss owners, Allseas. The boat was built section-by-section in South Korea, on a giant floating dock in Okpo-dong harbour.
  3. Blocks of the ship were pre-assembled and then merged to make two “half-hulls” in floating docks.
  4. It took 16 million man hours to build the ship. If one person was working 40 hours a week it would take nearly 7,700 years to complete.
  5. The two hulls of the ship are so big they had to be towed to a new site to be spliced together.
  6. The ship reportedly cost £1.9bn ($3.1bn) to build.
  7. It has enough room to house 571 people – not just the crew, but the engineers and technicians needed to carry out the oil-support role.
  8. The Pieter Schelte displaces 365,000 tonnes – and that’s before you add the 48,000-tonne weight of an oil rig platform. The ship's weight is the equivalent of:
  9. The Pieter Schelte isn’t the longest boat on the high seas – that’s the container ship Maersk Triple E class, the first of which came into service in 2013. Here’s a comparison:
  10. And here’s how big the ship is compared with another Allseas support vessel, the Deepwater Asgard.
  11. The ship can generate 95MW of power to move its massive bulk – that’s enough electricity for 5,000 homes.
  12. It left port last week, and will take 50 days to reach Rotterdam, travelling via Singapore and Cape Town.
  13. You can keep track of it on the MarineTraffic website:
Read next page