largest oil tankers in the world

The 15 Largest Oil Tankers in the World

Oil tankers are ships that transport large quantities of crude oil across oceans. These huge oil tankers transport about 2 billion metric tons annually and according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), made up about 28% of the entire world’s shipping deadweight tonnage in 2016.

In order to facilitate the high demand for crude oil during their time, these oil tankers were built with maximum capacity (deadweight) in mind. Some of these engineering marvels are still in service today, transporting crude across our oceans. Let’s take a look at the largest oil takers in the world.

1. Seawise Giant

seawise giant oil tanker
  • Length: 458.46 (1,504.1 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (GWT): 564,763
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 260,851
  • Operator: Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL)
  • Builder: Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. (Kanagawa, Japan)
  • IMO Number: 7381154
  • Service: 1979 – 2009
  • Class: ULCC

The Seawise Giant was the largest oil tanker in the world. During its time, it was the longest self-propelled ship ever built. While its original name was Seawise Giant, it later came to be known as Happy Giant, Jahre Viking, Knock Nevis, and finally Mont. The length of this vessel was 458.46 m (1,505.1 ft). It had a deadweight tonnage of 564,763, a gross tonnage of 260,851 and when fully laden, it had a displacement of 657,019 tonnes. 

Seawise Giant was built by Sumitomo Heavy Industries in Kanagawa, Japan and its last operator was Prayati Shipping. While operating across the Atlantic Ocean, this oil tanker could not navigate the English Channel, the Panama Canal, or the Suez Canal because of its draft, when fully loaded. 

Seawise Giant was sunk in 1988 as a result of being hit by bombs during the Iran-Iraq war. However, it was subsequently salvaged and turned into a floating storage vessel. Its final journey as Mont was in 2009 after which it was sent for scrapping.

2. Pierre Guillaumat

© Didier Pinçoc / aukevisser.nl
  • Length: 414.23 (1,359 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 555,051
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 274,837
  • Operator: Cie Nationale de Nav
  • Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique (Saint-Nazaire, France)
  • IMO Number: 7360150
  • Service: 1977 – 1983
  • Class: ULCC

Built in 1977, Pierre Guillaumat was one of four Batillus class supertankers. It had a length of 414.23 m (1,359 ft), a deadweight tonnage of 555,051, a gross tonnage of 274,837 and was named after the French politician. It was operated by Elf Aquitaine, a company which was founded by Pierre Guillaumat. 

Because of the declining state of the crude oil market at the time of its completion, as well as its huge size, Pierre Guillaumat didn’t see a lot of use in its short lifetime. It was not able to pass through the Panama or Suez canal due to its size, which meant that it could serve a limited number of ports. 

Due to these reasons, the ship was later on sold to Hyundai Corporation in 1983, subsequently being known as Ulsan Master. Within the same year it was scrapped.  

3. Prairial

  • Length: 414.22 m (1,359 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 555,046
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 274,826
  • Operator: Cie Nationale de Nav
  • Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique (Saint-Nazaire, France)
  • IMO Number: 7408720
  • Service: 1979 – 2003
  • Class: ULCC

Similar to the other Batillus class oil tankers, Prairial was built in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard located in Saint-Nazaire, France. It measures an impressive 414.22 m or 1,359.0 feet in length. Its deadweight tonnage was 555,046 and its gross tonnage was 274,825.

Prairial was a ULCC oil tanker that was powered by four Stal-Laval steam turbines that could generate up to 65,000 horsepower. In comparison to her 3 sister ships, Prairial was in service the longest from 1979 to 2003.

Throughout her service, she was sold to new operators and was registered under the names Sea Brilliance, Hellas Fos and Sea Giant. Ultimately, she went out of service in 2003 and in the same year was scrapped in Gadani, Pakistan.

4. Bellamya

© gorgs8 / flickr.com
  • Length: 414.22 m (1,359 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 553,662
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 274,276
  • Operator: Société Maritime Shell France
  • Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique (Saint-Nazaire, France)
  • IMO Number: 7360100
  • Service: 1976 – 1986
  • Class: ULCC

Measuring at a length of 414.22m or 1,359.0 feet, Bellamya is one of the sister vessels of Pierre Guillaumat and Prairial. It has a deadweight tonnage of 553,662 and a gross tonnage of  247,267. Bellamya was in operation from 1976 to 1986. 

Built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique for Shell Oil’s French branch, it wasn’t used for a very long time as the oil market was in decline and the ship’s size also meant that it could not operate in several key areas. 

The ship was the second in the Batillus class of supertankers and only Seawise Giant exceeded its size. Bellamya’s active service ended in 1984 when it was laid up in Norway. Around two years later, in January 1986, it was sent to Ulsan, South Korea to be scrapped.

5. Batillus

© Softwarehistorian
  • Length: 414.22 m (1,359 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 553,662
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 275,268
  • Operator: Société Maritime Shell France
  • Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique (Saint-Nazaire, France)
  • IMO Number: 7360095
  • Service: 1976 – 1985
  • Class: ULCC

Batillus was also built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique for Shell Oil in France, in 1976. This was the first ship in its class and would be later joined by Bellamya, Pierre Guillaumat and Prarial. Batillus had a length of 414.22 m or 1,359.0 feet, a deadweight tonnage of 553,662 and a gross tonnage of 273,550. 

The ship was put in service in 1976 with a new oil terminal, Antifer. This was one of the few ports that could accommodate tankers of the Batillus class. Most of the ship’s voyages were between the Persian Gulf and northern Europe. 

Due to the steady decline of the oil market, Batillus saw only four to five trips per year which later reduced to around two by 1981. The ship was ultimately moored in Norway and in 1985, it was decided to sell it for scrap. It met this fate in December 1985 in Taiwan. 

6. Esso Atlantic

  • Length: 406.57 m (1,333.9 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 516,895
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 259,532
  • Operator: Esso Tankers Inc.
  • Builder: Hitachi Zosen Corporation (Ariake, Japan)
  • IMO Number: 7376525
  • Service: 1977 – 2002
  • Class: ULCC

Esso Atlantic was operated by Esso Tankers Inc. It was one of the only seven ships in the world that surpassed a deadweight capacity of half a million tonnes. Its length of 406.57 m or 1,333.9 feet made it one of the largest oil tankers. The deadweight tonnage of Esso Atlantic was 516,895 and the gross tonnage 259,532. 

She was built in 1977 and with a draft of 25.3 m she could not navigate the English Channel, the Panama Canal, or the Suez Canal. The Esso Atlantic was later transferred to the Bahamas in 1983. It kept operating for a long time until 2002, before it was finally sold to shipbreakers in Pakistan for scrapping. 

7. Esso Pacific

© Esso
  • Length: 406.57 m (1,333.9 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 516,895
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 259,532
  • Operator: Esso Tankers Inc.
  • Builder: Hitachi Zosen Corporation (Ariake, Japan)
  • IMO Number: 7376537
  • Service: 1977 – 2002
  • Class: ULCC

Esso Pacific was the sister ship of Esso Atlantic. It was also operated by Esso Tankers Inc. and had the same measurements at 406.57 m or 1,339 feet in length. Like its sister ship, Esso Pacific also had a deadweight capacity of over half a million tonnes which made it one of the seven ships with this attribute. 

Since both ships were practically the same in size, this large oil tanker also had troubles navigating the English Channel and the Panama and Suez Canals. It also operated in the same time period as Esso Atlantic, from 1977 to 2002. 

The ultimate fate of Esso Pacific was also the same. She was sent to the Gadani Shipbreaking Yard in Pakistan for scrapping.

8. Nai Superba

© Eren Topcu / aukevisser.nl
  • Length: 381.92 m (1,253 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 409,400
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 198,763
  • Operator: Nav Alta Italia
  • Builder: Eriksbergs Mekaniska Verkstad (Gothenburg, Sweden)
  • IMO Number: 7388906
  • Service: 1978 – 2001
  • Class: ULCC

Nai Superba was a ship built in 1978 at Sweden’s Eriksbergs Mekaniska Verkstads AB Shipyard and was one of the last ships built there. The length of the ship was 381.92 m or 1,253 feet. The deadweight tonnage of this ULCC was 409,400 and its gross tonnage was 198,783. 

Originally built as an oil ship, Nai Superba was also used to transport chemicals around the world. However, even though it was used for multiple purposes, the ship had to be sold multiple times between 1985 and 1997 due to financial struggles. 

Ultimately, the ship was scrapped in 2001 because it was becoming harder to deal with the economic losses that were taking place around the time in the industry. 

9. Nai Genova

© Frafo / shipspotting
  • Length: 381.92 m (1,253 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 409,400
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 188,947
  • Operator: Nav Alta Italia
  • Builder: Eriksbergs Mekaniska Verkstad (Gothenburg, Sweden)
  • IMO Number: 7388891
  • Service: 1978 – 2000
  • Class: ULCC

Nai Genova was the sister ship to Nai Superba. It was also built by the Eriksbergs Mekaniska Verkstads AB Shipyard in Sweden. It had a length of 381.81 m or 1,253 feet, almost the same as Nai Superba. However, its gross tonnage was lower than its sister at 188,947. 

Nai Genova was also known as an oil ship but had many trips transporting chemicals to many ports around the world. Unfortunately, it also became prey to economic struggles and saw many different owners and operators during its lifetime.

Nai Genova also could not escape the declining state of the oil market just as many other ships on this list. After years of struggle, the ship was sent to be scrapped one year before its sister ship, in 2000.

10. Berge Empress

© aukevisser.nl
  • Length: 381.82 m (1,252.7 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 423,745
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 211,358
  • Operator: Bergesen d.y. & Co
  • Builder: Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (Chiba, Japan)
  • IMO Number: 7379929
  • Service: 1976 – 2004
  • Class: ULCC

Berge Empress was built in 1976, in Chiba, Japan. It had a length of 381.82 m or 1,252.7 feet with a deadweight tonnage of 423,745 and a gross tonnage of 211,358. The oil tanker was owned by Bergesen d.y. & Co. and operated for a relatively long time. During its time, it was one of the largest oil tankers ever built in the world due to its incredible length. 

She survived for longer than many other oil tankers on this list. However, due to many of the same reasons, the Berge Empress was finally sent off to be scrapped. However, it did survive for almost 30 years which is longer than some other super-sized oil tankers. Ultimately, she met her end in 2004. 

11. Berge Emperor

  • Length: 381.82 m (1,252.7 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 413,999
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 211,360
  • Operator: Bergesen d.y. & Co
  • Builder: Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (Chiba, Japan)
  • IMO Number: 7379917
  • Service: 1975 – 1986
  • Class: ULCC

The Berge Emperor was the ship that was built before the Empress. She was built in 1975 in Japan and was also owned by Bergesen d.y. & Co. The Berge Emperor had a total length of 381.82 m or 1,252.7 feet, which is the same as the ship that came after it. However, its deadweight tonnage was lower than that of the Berge Empress, at 413,999. 

Unlike its younger sibling, the Berge Emperor did not operate for very long. It remained under the possession of the original owner till 1985 when it was sold to Maastow BV. At this point, the ship was renamed simply ‘Emperor’, and was scrapped the very next year in Taiwan. 

12. TI Asia

  • Length: 380 m (1,247 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 234,006
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 441,893
  • Operator: Tankers International L.L.C
  • Builder: Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co (South Korea)
  • IMO Number: 9224752
  • Service: In Service (Since 2002)
  • Class: ULCC

TI Asia (FSO Asia since 2009) is a supertanker that belongs to the TI class of supertankers. It is owned and operated by Tankers International as signified by the ‘TI’ in the name. The ‘FSO’ in its current name comes from the fact that it was converted into a floating storage and offloading vessel later on. 

Like all of the other three ships in this class, the TI Asia has a total length of 380 m or 1,247 feet with a deadweight tonnage of 234,006 and a gross tonnage of 234,006. TI Asia was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea and started operating in 2002. 

The original name of the ship was Hellespont Alhambra and it was renamed TI Asia in 2004 after it was sold to Euronav NV and partners. The TI Asia, or FSO Asia, is still in operation making it one of the largest ships in current times.

13. TI Africa

  • Length: 380 m (1,247 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 234,006
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 441,893
  • Operator: Tankers International L.L.C
  • Builder: Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co (South Korea)
  • IMO Number: 9224764
  • Service: In Service (Since 2002)
  • Class: ULCC

TI Africa has a very similar story to that of TI Asia. It was also owned and operated by Tankers International and is also known as TI Africa. It was and is being used as a floating storage and offloading vessel. 

Similar to FSO Asia, it has a length of 380 m or 1,247 feet with the same deadweight and gross tonnage, also being built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The original name of FSO Africa was Hellespont Metropolis before it was bought by Euronav NV and partners, and was renamed in 2004. 

The ship cost $89 million back in 2002 and took 700,000 hours of labor to be built. FSO Africa is still operating today but like its sister ships, it is too wide to travel through the Suez Canal.

14. TI Europe

© Euronav
  • Length: 380 m (1,247 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 234,006
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 441,893
  • Operator: Tankers International L.L.C
  • Builder: Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co (South Korea)
  • IMO Number: 9235268
  • Service: In Service (Since 2002)
  • Class: ULCC

TI Europe is the third in the collection of four TI class supertankers built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. Operated by Tankers International, this ship was also the same size as the other ones with a length of 380 m or 1,247 feet. Unlike TI Asia and TI Africa, however, TI Europe was not used as an FSO. 

Originally, the ship was known as Hellespont Tara before the acquisition from Euronav NV and partners. Like the others, TI Europe has a comparatively higher speed when considering other oil tankers of similar specifications. 

This is one of the reasons why it has a higher earning capacity, too. However, the fact that none of the ships can cross the Suez Canal means that there are some restrictions to where they can operate.

15. TI Oceania

© Rob-In-Transit / flickr.com
  • Length: 380 m (1,247 ft)
  • Deadweight Tonnage (DWT): 234,006
  • Gross Tonnage (GT): 441,893
  • Operator: Tankers International L.L.C
  • Builder: Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co (South Korea)
  • IMO Number: 9246633
  • Service: In Service (Since 2002)
  • Class: ULCC

The last oil tanker on the list of the four TI supertankers is TI Oceania. She has the same length of 380 m or 1,247 feet and has the same deadweight and gross tonnage, as its sister ships operated by Tankers International.

The original name of the ship before its 2004 acquisition was Hellespont Fairfax. It started its operations in 2002 as an oil tanker and is still being used today. An interesting fact about TI Oceania is that this ship became the subject of a television show called Superships on Discovery Channel. She can be seen in the episode titled Launching a Leviathan-Hellespont Fairfax