Biggest Ship in the World – Top 10 List

If you’ve ever seen a big container ship or cruise ship parked in your city, you likely were in awe at its size. In actuality, that ship would likely pale in comparison to the biggest ship in the world. In this article, I’ll describe the biggest ship in the world, plus 9 other of the biggest ships.

What is the biggest ship in the world? Seawise Giant was the biggest ship ever built on earth. When it was first built, in 1979, Seawise was smaller. It was then later expanded (also referred to as jumboized) to become the biggest ocean-going vessel in terms of length and displacement. Its overall length is 458.46 meters (1,504 feet), and its deadweight tonnage is 564,650 tons.

A football field is 300 feet long, so Seawise Giant was the length of five football fields! The Empire State Building is 365,000 tons so Seawise Giant could hold about 1.5 Empire State Buildings!

The full list of 10 biggest ships in the world – past and present – are as follows:

  1. Seawise Giant Supertanker
  2. Batillus Supertanker
  3. Esso Atlantic Supertanker
  4. FouMV Barzan, MOL Triumph, and CSCL Globe Container Ships
  5. HMM Container Ship
  6. OOCL Container Ship
  7. Pioneering Spirit Construction Vessel
  8. Nai Genova and Nai Superba Supertankers
  9. Berge Emperor and Berge Empress
  10. TI Supertankers

The building of giant ships is a testimony to man’s capability to do things bigger and bigger. Read on to learn more about the biggest ship in the world, including a list of other very big ships in the world.

Biggest Ship in the World – Top 10 List

1. Seawise Giant Supertanker

the biggest ship in the whole world

The answer to the question: “What is the biggest ship in the world?” needs to meet certain standards. A ship could be the biggest in terms of its length. However, there are also huge ships with the widest beam or width. And then you could also say that a ship is the biggest in terms of its total area in square feet or square meters.

In the shipbuilding industry, the words “biggest” and “largest” usually refer to the overall length of the ship. The term “biggest” is also seldom applied to the ship’s width, total area, or tonnage. The length of a ship is an essential element in calculating its speed, friction, and resistance.

So in terms of length, the biggest ship ever built in the world was the Seawise Giant. This huge ship was classified as a ULCC oil tanker. Sumitomo Heavy Industries began building this vessel in 1974, and delivery was made in 1979. But it was not built as big as its final configuration. Jumboization, or enlarging a ship by adding entire sections, made it longer and bigger than it was initially.

The overall length of Seawise Giant was 458.46 meters (1,504 feet), its beam was 68.8 meters (226 feet), and its deadweight tonnage was 564,650 tons.

Seawise had a long and colorful history. Changes in ownership throughout its service life resulted in several name changes. Its original name, Seawise Giant, was changed to Happy Giant, then to Jahre Viking, to Knock Nevis, to Oppama, and lastly, to Mont. This humongous ship was finally decommissioned in 2009.

2. Batillus Supertanker

The Batillus class of ships were huge! They make our second spot in our list of biggest ships in the world. There were four ships built in this class. The biggest of these ships has an overall length of 414.22 m (1,359 ft.) and DWT of 555,051 tons.

The ships that belonged to this class of supertankers were built in France near the end of the 1970s. Four ships were made in this class from 1976 to 1979. These ships were commissioned into full service after their construction. Ultimately, all four ships were decommissioned after many years of service. The last ship of this class was decommissioned and scrapped in 2003.

3. Esso Atlantic Supertanker

The third biggest ship in the world is the Esso Atlantic class of ships. Two ships were built in this class: the Esso Atlantic and the Esso Pacific. Both are large ULCC supertankers.

The overall length of this class of ships is 406.57 m (1,333.17 ft.) with a DWT of up to 516,891 tons. The Hitachi Zosen Corporation in Ariake, Japan, built the two ships. The Pacific was launched on June 13, 1977, and the Atlantic on October 2 of the same year.

After serving its owner for many years, the Esso Atlantic was decommissioned and scrapped in August of 2002. The Esso Pacific followed suit in September of 2002.

4. FouMV Barzan, MOL Triumph, and CSCL Globe Container Ships

Three ships qualify as the fourth biggest ships in the world, and they are the MV Barzan, MOL Triumph, and CSCL Globe. All three vessels are ultra-large container ships. Each of these three gigantic ships has an overall length of 400 m (1,312 ft.).

MV Barzan

This container ship is one of the six container ships operated by UASC Kuwait in the 18,800 TEU categories. Though this ship is ultra-big and ultra-heavy, its carbon emissions are considerably lower than all container ships of the Maersk EEE class.

MV Barzan’s overall length is 400 m (1,312 ft.) with a DWT of 199,744 tons. Hyundai Heavy Industries built this ship in 2015 in its shipbuilding facilities in Mokpo, South Korea. In six months, the ship was completed from steel cutting to its launching.

It is the first ship to be classified as DNV GL or “Gas Ready.” She is still plying the route that takes her as far as several ports in North China to four ports in the Northern European continent. UASC Kuwait is managing the MV Barzan.

MOL Triumph

This large vessel is also an ultra-large container ship. It is the first container ship that is categorized as 20,000 TEU. Samsung Heavy Industries of South Korea built it on orders from its owner Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. It has been plying its routes since its launch in December 2015.

The overall length of MOL Triumph is 400 m (1,312 ft.), but its DWT is less than Barzan’s at 192,672 tons. Its cruising speed is about 22 knots (41 kilometers per hour) with a maximum speed of 24 Kn (44 kph).

CSCL Globe

This giant is owned and operated by China Shipping Container Lines. It was ordered in May 2013 and was launched on August 23, 2014. This container ship has a capacity of 19,100 TEU.

The overall length of the CSCL Globe is also 400 m (1,312 ft.). Its DWT is even less than MOL Triumph, which is only 184,605 tons. It went on its maiden voyage in December 2014 and is still making money for its owners in China.

5. HMM Container Ship

worlds biggest ship

Fifth, on our list of “What is the biggest ship in the world” is the HMM Container Ship. During its naming ceremony in Korea on April 23, 2020, HMM, the 9th largest container shipping line in the world, claimed that its HMM Algeciras is the biggest container vessel in the world.

This vessel is the company’s first 24,000 TEU container ship (out of twelve ships) that the company ordered. The order was distributed to three giant shipbuilders – Samsung Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

HMM Algeciras has an overall length of 399.9 m (1,312 ft.) and a gross tonnage of 228,283 tons. It was built in 2020, together with its sister ship HMM Oslo. Both ships almost have the same dimensions, except for Oslo’s gross tonnage at 232,311 tons.

Six other ultra-long container ships have an overall length of 399.9 meters. They are as follows:

  1. MSC Gülsün – Constructed in 2019 and has a gross tonnage of 232,618 tons
  2. MSC Samar – Also built in 2019, with a gross tonnage of 232,618 tons
  3. MSC Leni – Completed its construction in 2019, with a gross tonnage of 232,618 tons
  4. MSC Mia – Built in 2019, with a gross tonnage of 232,618 tons
  5. MSC Febe – Also constructed in 2019, with a gross tonnage of 232,618 tons
  6. MSC Ambra – Built in 2020, with a gross tonnage of 232,618 tons

All of these container ships are owned and operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company.

6. OOCL Container Ship

The sixth-largest ship in the world belongs to the Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL). There are six of these ships in the care and operation of OOCL. All of these six container ships have an overall length of 399.87 m (1,312 ft.) and DWT of 210,890 tons. These ships are:

  1. OOCL Hong Kong
  2. OOCL Indonesia
  3. OOCL Germany
  4. OOCL Japan
  5. OOCL Scandinavia
  6. OOCL United Kingdom

OOCL is a Hong Kong-based container shipping line. It provides its clients with fully-integrated containerized transportation and logistics services. The company’s network reaches around the globe with many offices and operations in Australasia, Africa, North and South America, Europe, and Asia. It operates 59 vessels of varying classes with capacities ranging from 2,992 TEUs to 21,413 TEUs.

7. Pioneering Spirit Construction Vessel

The seventh biggest ship in the world is the Pioneering Spirit, formerly named Pieter Schelte. The Pioneering Spirit is a crane vessel and is the biggest twin-hulled ship that was ever built. Its beam of 124 m (407 ft.) makes it the widest among the world’s ships.

The overall length of the Pioneering Spirit is 382 m (1,253 ft.) with a DWT of 403,342 tons. It was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea and was launched on January 2, 2013. This ship is still providing service to its clients and can accommodate 571 crew members. Its maximum lifting capacity is 48,000 tons, with a displacement of 1,000,000 tons.

The Pieter Schelte, before it was renamed to Pioneering Spirit, was a platform installation/decommissioning and pipelaying ship. Allseas gave the order to Daewoo Shipping to build this ship in June 2010. It had an overall length of 382 m (1,253 ft.) and a capacity of 564,763 DWT. This ship was designed to install or remove offshore oil and gas rigs. It can also lay pipes under the seabed.

8. Nai Genova and Nai Superba Supertankers

There are two ships considered on the eighth spot of the biggest ships in the world. They are Nai Genova and Nai Superba. Both were initially owned and operated by Nav Alta Italia SpA. These two ships are both oil supertankers.

Nai Superba was delivered to the owner by the Swedish shipbuilder, Eriksberg M.V., in 1978, together with its sister ship Nai Genova. The ship had an overall length of 381.92 m (1,253 ft.) and a DWT of 409,400 tons.

Nai Genova provided services to its owner and clients until it was scrapped in 2000. Its sister ship Nai Superba was also scrapped in the same year.

9. Berge Emperor and Berge Empress

Two ships also qualify as the ninth biggest ships on earth. They are the Berge Emperor and Berge Empress. Both ships were classified as oil tankers.

Mitsui of Japan built the Berge Emperor in 1975. It was ordered by its original owner Bergesen D.Y. & Co. This oil tanker has an overall length of 381.82 m (1,253 ft.) and a DWT of 423,745 tons. Bergesen sold it in 1985 to Maastow BV, which later changed its name to “Emperor.” The ship was reportedly scrapped in Kaohsiung, China, in 1986.

Its sister ship, the Berge Empress, also had the same general dimensions and capacities. It had the same builder, owner, and operator at the start. It was also bought by Maastow BV in 1985 and was finally scrapped in Chittagong, Bangladesh, in 2004.

10. TI Supertankers

The TI class ships (all crude tankers) qualify as our tenth biggest ships in the world. There are four of these ships under the ownership of Hellespont Group. They are:

  1. TI Oceania
  2. TI Europe
  3. TI Asia 
  4. TI Africa

The term “TI” refers to Tanker International, the name of the tanker pool operator. All four ships were built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea. They were the first ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs) to be constructed in 25 years.

The overall length of a TI class ship is 380 m (1,247 ft.), and its DWT is 234,006 tons. All four ships were built from 2000 to 2003, and all are still in active service.

Conclusion – What Is the Biggest Ship in the World?

So, to recap, Seawise Giant was the biggest ship ever built in the world. When it was first built, the ship was smaller. But because of jumboization, Seawise Giant became the biggest ocean-going vessel ever made in terms of length and tonnage.

The full list of top 10 biggest ships in the world are as follows:

  1. Seawise Giant Supertanker
  2. Batillus Supertanker
  3. Esso Atlantic Supertanker
  4. FouMV Barzan, MOL Triumph, and CSCL Globe Container Ships
  5. HMM Container Ship
  6. OOCL Container Ship
  7. Pioneering Spirit Construction Vessel
  8. Nai Genova and Nai Superba Supertankers
  9. Berge Emperor and Berge Empress
  10. TI Supertankers