The World’s Largest Vessel Is Bigger Than the Empire State Building. The world’s largest vessel just set sail off the coast of South Korea.
The Prelude is 1,601 feet long — that’s 150 feet longer than the Empire State Building is tall. Owned by Shell, the vessel’s massive size has earned it the title of largest object currently afloat.
The bright red vessel weighs 600,000 tons and is 243 feet wide, according to Wired.Construction of the Prelude, which has three engines that pack 20,100 horsepower, took a full year to complete.
So how does Shell plan to use the mammoth vessel? It will be a floating liquefied natural gas facility, where natural gas will be harvested from the depths of the ocean, processed on board and transferred to transport ships waiting in the sea. Wired reported that the Prelude will produce 3.9 million tons each year.
The floating facility will take some of the strain of gas production off the environment, Shell said in a release. “It also avoids the potential environmental impact of constructing and operating a plant on land, including laying pipelines to shore and building other infrastructure.”
Since the Prelude is so large, it will require a system of pulleys and levers to haul it across the sea. So while it is entirely mobile, the vessel will remain stationary for large blocks of time. Its first destination, for example, is off the coast of Western Australia, where it will anchor for 25 years.
Responsible for 175 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of natural gas at any time, it isn’t hard to understand why the vessel has put safety systems in place to combat weather troubles. A turret the height of the Statue of Liberty has been constructed to run through the Prelude, ensuring stability even during a Category 5 hurricane, as the mooring system gently absorbs the force of winds.
While the Prelude will begin its trek to Australia in 2017, Shell is already working on the designs of an even bigger vessel, according to Reuters.