The energy industry continues to provide some of the most innovative maritime solutions to problems, and increasingly, those solutions float. And so, apparently, does the new holder of the ‘world’s biggest ship’ title, Shell Oil’s Prelude. She’s less ship than factory; the 1601-foot long monster has no propulsion system; tugs will tow her from Samsung’s yard in Korea to Broome, Western Australia, where Prelude will be moored to Shell’s LNG drilling operation (about 300 NM offshore). Most interesting to anyone who’s spent any time at anchor is the mooring system – four sets of mooring cables attach to a central ‘turret’, allowing the entire floating factory to weathervane into the wind – an essential characteristic for her required ability to survive a true Cat 5 Typhoon. Fortunately even if the ship encounters problem, her only cargo is LNG – far less dangerous to the environment than any kind of oil spill.
There’s some more info in a corporate video here, and here’s an infographic showing how big Prelude is compared to the world’s biggest skyscrapers. For the best idea of her scale, look really carefully at the starboard bow, directly under a small blue crane. That’s a man.