It may not seem feasible for a ship to transport 75,000 tons of cargo at a time – but it certainly is. The Blue Marlin, a cargo ship owned by Dockwise, is a massive vessel that totes oil rigs, aircraft carriers, and even other cargo ships. The Blue Marlin has been called upon for a number of big jobs, including carrying the Navy’s USS Cole back home and transporting an Australian aircraft carrier from Spain all the way back to the South Pacific continent.
The Blue Marlin’s staggering dimensions
Of course, the ship’s dimensions are massive. It’s 712 ft. long, 138 ft. deep, and boasts a deck as big as two soccer fields (or football fields, for our international friends)! Powering such a monstrosity takes some pretty heavy duty engines. Multiple 17,000-horsepower diesel engines can move the ship through the water at speeds reaching 13 knots. Steering the Blue Marlin is no easy feat, either. Imagine trying to drive a vehicle the size of an office park!
How do you get cargo ships onto the deck of an even larger cargo ship?
The ship’s designers had to get pretty innovative when it came to tackling the obstacle of loading cargo onto the massive deck. After all, most of the cargo being transported on its deck is too heavy to be lifted with even the world’s strongest cranes. To solve this issue, engineers included a revolutionary feature: the ship partially submerges itself underwater so its cargo can simply float on top of it. Crew members then empty the ballast tank to raise the massive ship back up to proper traveling height.
In one of its more recent journeys, the Blue Marlin transported twenty two barges from Korea to Rotterdam. Engineers added a special set of cradles to the ship in order to accommodate the unique cargo. The barges were then stacked up on top of each other (as many as four high) before being floated onto the Blue Marlin’s deck. This doesn’t even come close to the ship’s largest order, however. At one point the carrier was tasked with the job of carting the BP Oil Rig Thunder Horse (the largest offshore production platform in the Gulf) 16,000 miles, from Korea to the Gulf of Mexico.
An even bigger ship shipper
In early 2013, Dockwise acquired the largest semi-submersible heavy lift ship ever built – the Vanguard. Dwarfing the Blue Marlin, the Vanguard’s deck is 70% larger and can carry up to 110,000 metric tons of deadweight. The Vanguard cost $240 million.