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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?
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.