Seawise Giant

Seawise Giant

Seawise Giant, later ‘Happy Giant,’ ‘Jahre Viking,’ ‘Knock Nevis,’ ‘Oppama,’ and finally ‘Mont,’ was an Ultra Large Crude Carrier (ULCC) supertanker and the longest ship ever built. She possessed the greatest deadweight tonnage ever recorded.

Fully laden, her displacement was 724,239 tons, the heaviest ship of any kind, and with a draft of 81 ft (the distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull), she was incapable of navigating the English Channel, the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal. Overall, she was generally considered the largest ship ever built, as well as the largest self-propelled human-made object ever built.

The vessel could reach up to 16.5 knots in good weather, took 5.5 miles to stop from that speed, and her turning circle in optimal conditions was about 2 mi. She was sunk during the Iran-Iraq War, but was later salvaged and restored into service. The ship was last used as a floating storage and offloading unit moored off the coast of a Qatari oilfield. The vessel was sold to Indian ship breakers, and renamed Mont for her final journey in 2009. After clearing Indian customs, she was sailed to, and intentionally beached at Alang, Gujarat, India for demolition.

‘Seawise Giant’ was ordered in 1974 and delivered in 1979 by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. (SHI) of Japan at their Oppama shipyard as a 418,000 ton ULCC. During sea trials, the ship exhibited massive vibration problems while astern. The Greek owner refused to take delivery and the vessel was subject to a lengthy arbitration proceeding. Following settlement it was christened ‘Oppama’ by SHI and a deal was brokered with Hong Kong Orient Overseas Container Line founder C. Y. Tung to lengthen the ship by several meters and add 156,000 metric tons of cargo capacity through jumboisation (a shipbuilding technique). Two years later she was relaunched as ‘Seawise Giant.’ The rudder weighed 230 tons, the propeller 50 tons.

Seawise Giant was damaged and sunk at the end of the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War by an Iraqi Air Force attack while transiting the Strait of Hormuz loaded with Iranian crude oil. The ship was struck by anti-ship Exocet missiles. Fires ignited aboard the ship and blazed out of control, and she sank in the shallow waters off the coast of Larak Island, Iran. She was declared a total loss and was laid up. Shortly after the war ended, Norman International bought the wreckage of the ship and raised her and repaired her at the Keppel Company shipyard in Singapore. She was renamed ‘Happy Giant’ after the repairs concluded in 1991.

Norwegian shipping magnate Jørgen Jahre bought the tanker later that year for US$39 million and renamed her ‘Jahre Viking.’ From 1991 to 2004, she was owned by Loki Stream AS and flew the Norwegian flag. In 2004, she was purchased by First Olsen Tankers Pte. Ltd., renamed ‘Knock Nevis,’ and converted into a permanently moored storage tanker in the Qatar Al Shaheen oil field in the Persian Gulf. ‘Knock Nevis’ was finally renamed ‘Mont,’ and reflagged with Sierra Leone by new owners Amber Development Corporation, for her final voyage to India in 2010 where she was scrapped. Her 40 ton anchor was saved and sent to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum for exhibition.


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