Cristobal Colon: The Largest, Hi-tech Ocean Dredger

Dredging refers to the activity that is carried out with the objective of removing the deposits that accumulate in the depths of water-bodies where water navigation is carried out. The equipment used to carry out the process of dredging is known as the dredge while the vessel on which the dredge is mounted or loaded is known as the dredger.

Cristobal Colon, which forms a part of the huge vessel fleet of the Belgian shipping infrastructure conglomerate Jan De Nul, is the largest and the most high-tech dredger in the world today. At present, the Cristobal Colon forms the flagship of the company’s dredging operations.



Dredger under the trailer hopper class, the Cristobal Colon ship has catapulted the company as the premier dredging ship builders in terms of dredging. Also, owing to its massive capacity and several other salient features, the Colon is currently rated as the top class dredging ship.


  • The most important and necessary requirement in any hopper vessel used in the dredging operation is the capacity of its hoppers. The Cristobal Colon ship has a hopper capacity of 46000 square metres which is nearly 40% more than what the Vasco da Gama – its closest peer offers
  • In addition to the hopper capability, the largest ship has a very high dredging depth of 155 metres. Reaching such a depth is possible because of its technologically powered dredging pumps which are submerged beneath the water surface. These pumps are operated electrically and provide a power of 6,500 kilowatts each (kW)
  • There are two pipes which provide suction for the dredger and which measure 1,300 millimetres in diameter while the pumps to discharge the collected deposits are also operated electrically with a power of 8000 kW each
  • The pipes to carry out the suction can be altered or customised to dredge deposits at three various depths. This facility gives the Cristobal Colon the feasibility to carry out the dredging operation irrespective of the level of deposits in the water
  • The material used to build this largest ship is steel as it is non-corrosive in nature and offers a lightweight movement in the water, enabling the ship to carry out its operations without any problems whatsoever


  • The Cristobal Colon measures 223 metres lengthwise, 41 metres breadth wise and has a draught of 15.15 metres
  • It offers a deadweight tonnage of 78,000 tons and has a speed of 18 knots
  • In terms of the accommodation facilities offered, the Cristobal Colon ship can accommodate 46 people

The Colon ship is a one-of-its-kind dredging ship. Given its success, another vessel with such a huge capacity, Liev Eiriksson, has been ordered to be built.

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