THE STORY OF THE LARGEST SHIP EVER BUILT – OR STRETCHED!

 

The Jahre Viking [Islamic and Northern European names] suggesting a Far East built ship and a Norwegian owner, but not quite as simple as that.

 

In 1973, the Yom Kippur War struck panic throughout the world and the OPEC imposed a world wide oil embargo.  Oil prices shot up by 70% and the demand for petrol was no longer. In one foul swoop, the need for massive oil tankers was no longer required, and what couldn’t be scrapped for a good price was laid-up awaiting better days.

 

In 1979 a tanker which had been completed and immediately laid-up without sea service, was dragged out of mothball state and sent to foreign places to be extended [stretched].  It was already a massive ship at 1237 foot long and well over 400,000 dwt, but the new owner wanted the ship cut in half to add in a new section which was 265.5 feet long, thus, on completion, making the ship 1504 feet long.  On purchase the unwanted ship was called OPPAMA, and the new owner renamed it the SEAWISE GIANT. When rebuilt she had a dwt of 647,955 tonnes and a ballast light weight of 83,192 tonnes, the largest ship ever built, and she started her life proper in 1980.

 

With such a load, the SEAWISE GIANT had a draught of 80 feet [not a VLCC but a ULCC –Very Large/Ultra Large Crude Carrier]. Her cruising or service speed was 13 knots, and the running costs were such that it rarely made any profit for the owners.

 

SEAWISE GIANT had many periods of unemployment and she became a Floating Storage and Offloading unit just three years later in 1983 at Galveston Texas. After three years of no sea-time, she was moved in 1986 to the Persian Gulf again as a FSO unit. Up until now, from birth in the mid 1970’s until 1986 she had had very little time at sea working.

 

Sadly for her, the SEAWISE GIANT was badly attacked by the Iraqi air force pilots during the Iraq/Iran war, and in 1988 she was severely damaged. At the end of that war, she was salvaged and refloated. Then she was towed to Brunei for indefinite laying-up: unloved and unwanted.

 

In 1990 the burnt out wreck was bought and sent to Singapore to be re-built.  She was renamed the HAPPY GIANT, but before she was delivered to her saviour, she was re-sold and again renamed, this time to JAHRE VIKING.

For the next decade, the JAHRE VIKING was a happy little{!} ship delivering oil all over the world but mainly to Europe and the USA. Her cargo of over 4 million barrel of crude oil, each at $50.00 could be valued at 210 million dollars, but once again, her running costs held down the profit to approximately $34,500 per day – not a good return for such a cargo.  By 2002 it was considerably lower.

 

Finally, her technology did her down and she had to leave the sea for good. The reason? She had just a single hull, and modern tankers had to have at the very least a double hull for environmental safety reasons. In 2003, she was completely converted into a proper FSO, helicopter pads included,  and her sea days were over. She was renamed for the last time and became the KNOCK NEVIS.   He life is now in the oilfields off Oman.  

 

Her radio callsign as the KNOCK NEVIS is S6AV7