Biggest ships ever wrecked


Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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Some time ago, we were trying to work out which ship was the biggest ever to sink. I've finally found material from Lloyd's that should be correct.

The biggest ship actually in Davy Jones's locker is Atlantic Empress. This tanker of 128,399 GRT and 292,666 dwt went down on August 2nd 1974. She had collided with the tanker Aegean Captain near the island of Tobago. She caught fire and was towed to deep water in order to prevent oil reaching the island. She rests roughly east of Barbados in about 5,000 metres of water. She was 347.23 metres LOA. Aegean Captain also caught fire, but she remained afloat. She was, however, declared a Constructive Total Loss and was broken up.

The biggest ship destroyed by the normal hazards of the sea was Energy Determination, a tanker of 153,480 GRT and 321,186 dwt. She was 351.44 metres long. On December 13th 1979 she was sailing in ballast through the Strait of Hormuz when there was a violent explosion in an almost empty tank.

The crew eventually abandoned ship and salvage tugs towed the burning ship clear of other vessels. On December 15th, Davy Jones was cheated of most of his prey when the stern of the ship broke off and sank. The remainder of the hull stayed afloat and was towed to Dubai, where it was condemned and sent to the breakers.

During the Iraq/Iran war, a number of even larger ships, including Seawise Giant (now Jahre Viking), were attacked by Iraqi aircraft. None of these ships sank, but they were declared CTLs. Most were broken up, but Seawise Giant was restored and is still in service.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Biggest passenger liner currently on the seabed is the Raffaello (904.6 X 101.9 X 36.2) which, after being bombed by Iraq and half burned out was allowed to sink 17 miles off the Iranian coast in about 120 feet of water. A while back an Iranian tanker grounded on the wreck and was damaged at which point she (Raffaello) was offered for sale as scrap, but at the time there were no takers.
 

Jim Kalafus

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It's how you look interpret "largest." Largest, in the tonnage sense does go to the Britannic, but largest in terms of physical size (as I said earlier 904 X 101) is the Rafaello, the former Italian flagship which few people outside of liner circles realise was lost back in the 1980s. 'though she may well have been scrapped since I 'lost touch' with the ongoing efforts to clear her hulk.
 
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Eric Kunau

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Wouldn't the Titanic be the largest ship on the ocean floor that was ever used as a passenger ship?
 
Jul 11, 2001
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What about Fire? The Normandie and the Queen Elizabeth both sank as the result of Fire. The Normandie was 1029 feet long. I recall the Queen Elizabeth was also over 1000' too.
 
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Eric Kunau

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True, but the Normandie and QE only partially sunk, and it happened in harbors. And since they have both been raised and scrapped since then, it makes the Titanic the largest ship on the ocean floor to have been used as an ocean liner.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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David, length is not the only factor determining sheer size. One can have a very long ship with fine lines and only a medium draft which as a consequence won't be anywhere near as massive. While the tankers mentioned in Dave Gittin's first post were actually close to the same length as the liners you mentioned, they were easily two to three times as wide and at full load, can have a draft between 90 to 100 feet. That makes for a pretty massive structure which is at least six times larger then either the Queen Elizabeth 1 or the Normandie.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Just to be specific, the Britannic has been said to be the largest sunken Ocean Liner currently in existance, with other contenders having been scrapped in situ. It's not really suprising that the largest single shipwreck is an oil tanker. The sheer size of these ships would make even the biggest liner or even an aircraft carrier look puny by comparision.
 

B Portwig

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Mar 25, 2019
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the biggest and longest passenger liners - is not necessary the same i believe the queen elizabeth was the - then - biggest - the france was slightly longer - of course this has now been beaten by the largest cruise ships today apologies for the poor scan
 

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