The increasing worldwide oil consumption since the late 1990s has led to the construction of the ULCC and VLCC tankers to meet the growing demands of the global consumer market.
These tankers have made the international transportation of oil quicker and environmentally safer since they produce fewer hydrocarbon emissions due to their latest designs and specialised features.
They have also done away with most issues faced earlier by the crude oil sector. Thus, they are known for their efficiency and their size as the world’s biggest crude oil tanker can accommodate enough oil for one-day consumption of Britain and France combined
The biggest oil tankers belong to the ULCC or Ultra large crude carrier category followed by the VLCC or very large crude carrier category.
The ULCC has a capacity of more than 320,000 DWT, deadweight surpassing 500,000 DWT, more than 400 m long with a draft exceeding 30 m.
The VLCC can accommodate up to 320,000 DWT and some tankers of this size can pass through the Suez Canal. They are more than 300 m long, with a draft of more than 25 m approximately.
More about the biggest oil tankers
These tankers can accommodate more than 3 million barrels of oil and around 2,000,000,000 metric tons of oil is transported annually by waterways in these huge tankers.
Using waterways is economically viable compared to transporting oil via pipelines which would be a much more costly and time-consuming proposition. Also, transporting oil by the biggest tankers adds just 2 to 4 cents to the cost of a gallon, hence making it quite profitable too.
Due to their mass, these tankers have large inertia which makes them cumbersome to steer. A loaded supertanker would require about 5 to 8 kilometres and roughly 15 to 20 minutes to come to a complete halt. They have a turning diameter of nearly 2 kilometres. Oil tankers have an operational life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.
In 2010, about 12 oil tankers exceeding 320,000 DWT were operational. Presently, only 2 ULCC are functional- Euronav Oceania and TI Europe. They were earlier part of the TI Class Supertankers and included TI Africa and TI Asia, all four built between 2002 and 2003. They were the first ULCC built in the last three decades. However, the latter two were transformed into floating storage or mooring facilities or FSO in 2010.
Let us explore the features of the biggest oil tankers that have eased crude oil transportation across countries.
Euronav Oceania is the biggest oil tanker ship that is currently operational. It is a ULCC, launched in 2003 and built by the South Korean shipbuilding company Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering for the shipping corporation Hellespont. The cost of its construction was 90 million dollars.
It was known by numerous names such as Hellespont_Fairfax in 2004, TI Oceania in 2015, Seaways L and Seaways Laura Lynn in 2017 and 2018. However, after its acquisition by the international shipping company Euronav, it was renamed Euronav Oceania. It is registered at Antwerp port and is owned by Euronav Shipping NV and managed by Euronav Ship Management.
It is wider than the New gates of the Panama Canal however its draft restricts it from passing through the Suez Canal unless it is on a ballast journey. It is powered by one Sulzer 9RTA84T-D and has a 50,220 brake horsepower, 37,450 kW At 76 RPM.
This biggest crude oil tanker is presently sailing under the flagship of Belgium. Euronov Oceania has a double hull and is 380 m long, 68 m wide with a draught of around 24 m. Its IMO number is 9246633 and its call signal is ONJP. The carrier’s gross tonnage is more than 234000 tonnes with a summer deadweight of 441585 tonnes. It sails at an average speed of 16.8 knots when it is fully loaded and 17.5 knots when in Ballast. It can carry more than 3 million barrels of oil.
One of its special features is that, unlike other tankers, its bridge wings do not extend to its sides. For keeping the temperature of its steel decks under control, to keep the cargo cool and lower the hydrocarbon emissions, the coating on ballast tanks is preserved by using a double-scrubbing system. Dry inert gases are released into ballast tanks to detect leakages and prevent accidents.
Another sister ship of Oceania is TI Europe built in 2002 and is currently sailing under Belgium’s flagship. Its capacity is 441561 tonnes DWT and its draught is around 12.5 m. Its IMO is 9235268 and it was known as Hellespont Tara earlier. It is owned by Euronav, Antwerp and has the same dimensions and carrying capacity as Euronav Oceania.
Eagle Trader 340m MOL Ship
Eagle Trader is a VLCC operated by MOL Tankship Management Asia, with a capacity of more than 200,000 DWT. MOL ships and carriers have a double engine that can function on methanol as well as conventional ship fuel. It was built in 2018 by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding, a Japanese Company.
Eagle Trader has an IMO number of 9782510 and its MMSI number is 431705000. It is registered and currently sailing under the Japanese flag. The maximum carrying capacity of the crude oil tanker is 160061 tonnes and its deadweight is 312424. The ship measures 339.5 m lengthwise and its beam measures 60 m. Its average draught is about 15.8 m and has an average speed of 11 knots while the maximum speed it can attain is 17.7 knots. Its call sign is 7 KDA and its homeport is Tokyo.
VLCC- DHT COLT
DHT COLT is a very large crude carrier, built-in 2018 in the Okpo shipyard by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Corporation LTD, South Korea. It has a double-hull and is gearless, infused with the latest maritime technology to maximise speed and productivity while producing lower carbon emissions. It is operated by DHT Management As, an independent crude oil tanker company.
It is currently sailing under Hong Kong’s flag, with an IMO number of 9813450 and an MMSI number of 477372700. Its summer deadweight is 318000 tonnes DWT and its draught is estimated to be 13.6 m. It has a maximum carrying capacity of 163571 tonnes. It measures 336 m lengthwise and 60.04 m breadthwise. Its call sign is VRSY2 and its average sailing speed is 7.7 knots while its maximum speed is 11.2 knots.
Chevron Voyager Series
Chevron Shipping Company launched a series of Very large crude carriers that are a part of the corporation’s fleet of oil tankers. The three VLCC’s include Houston Voyager, Pascagoula Voyager and San Ramon Voyager, each capable of accommodating around 2 million barrels of oil. These three carriers were designed and constructed in 2019 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Corporation for the Greek company, Maran Tankers.
The Houston Voyager has an IMO number of 9834442, MMSI number of 311000744 and call sign C6DP7. It is registered and presently under the flagship of the Bahamas. Its maximum carrying capacity is 163214 tonnes and its deadweight is 319397. Its LOA is 336 m and its beam measures 60 m. It has a draught of 16.2 m while its average speed is 12. 3 knots and the maximum speed is 16.5 knots. Its home port is Nassau.
The Pascagoula Voyager has the same dimensions as the Houston Voyager. Its IMO number is 982770, MMSI number is 311000746 and call sign is C6DP9. Its average draught is 18.5 m while its average speed is 11 knots and its maximum speed is 17 knots. Its deadweight is around 319398 tonnes and its gross tonnage is 163214 tonnes. The carrier is currently under the flagship of the Bahamas.
The tanker San Ramon Voyager has an IMO no. of 9834430 and MMSI no. 311000745, sailing under the Bahamas flag. It has a carrying capacity of 163214 tonnes and its deadweight is 318608. The average draught of the oil carrier is more than 16 m and its call sign is C6DP8. Its average speed is 11 knots while its maximum speed is 16.5 knots.
The Oil carrier Front Eminence was built in 2009 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Corporation, Geoje, South Korea. Its IMO and MMSI numbers are 9353802 and 538003941 respectively. Before its acquisition by Frontline LTD, an oil tanker shipping company, it was known by other names such as Andromedceca and Andromeda Glory. Later it was renamed Front Eminence in 2010.
The ship is double-hulled and is powered by a 7RT-flex 82T Sulzer engine. The engine power is about 29832 KW. It is currently under the flagship of the Marshall Islands and its homeport is Majuro. Its call sign is V7UF5.
The VLCC measures 333 m lengthwise and 60 m breadthwise. It has a maximum carrying capacity of 162706 tonnes and its Deadweight is 321300 tonnes. Its average draught is 15.5 m and its average and maximum sailing speeds are 10 knots and 17 knots respectively.
Thus, huge crude oil carriers have made oil transportation across the world a convenient and profitable business. However, this has been possible due to rapid technological advancements in the marine sector particularly shipping technology, communication systems, efficient logistics and real-time vessel tracking.
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An ardent sailor and a techie, Anish Wankhede has voyaged on a number of ships as a marine engineer officer. He loves multitasking, networking, and troubleshooting. He is the one behind the unique creativity and aesthetics at Marine Insight.