WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE GIANT?
Weighing more than 564,000 tonnes and measuring 458m in length, the Japanese-built supertanker Seawise Giant was – and still holds the record as – the largest ship ever built.
The Seawise Giant seemed destined for an unhappy life from the moment she was launched in 1979 by Sumitomo Heavy Industries. The Greek company that ordered her reneged on the deal, and that set the tone. She endured numerous ownership and name changes over her 30 years’ service.
But the ultimate indignity came when she was sunk by Saddam Hussain’s missiles during the Iran-iraq war of 1988. She was declared a write-off but fortunately sank in shallow water, allowing salvagers to re-float her. Refurbished, she continued transporting oil for 21 more years between the Middle East and the USA.
Twice the size of the Titanic, the Seawise Giant was so vast she couldn’t navigate the English Channel and took five miles to slow to a halt from her full speed of 16.5 knots. She was also too long and wide to navigate the Suez and Panama Canals. Her rudder alone weighed 230 tonnes – and her propeller 50 tonnes. Fully-loaded she tipped the scales at 657,000 tonnes.
Her demise came in 2010, when she ended up on an Indian beach and was ignominiously cut up for scrap. The only bit that survives is her 36-tonne anchor. It rests at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum – a reminder of a true leviathan.
TOP & ABOVE The Seawise Giant being dissected on an Indian beach. Saddam Hussain’s missiles sank her, but she was resurrected.