Record-Breaking 'Ship' So Big It's Not a Ship

Shell's Prelude takes to the water as world's largest floating vessel

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 6, 2013 9:35 AM CST

(Newser) – Picture the Empire State Building. Now picture it floating on its side at sea and you've got a pretty good idea what the world's largest floating vessel looks like. Shell's Prelude—a liquefied natural gas facility—has entered the water in South Korea and at 1,601 feet, it's 150 feet longer than New York's prized skyscraper is high, and 299 feet longer than the next biggest ship. But it's not actually a ship itself: The BBC notes the Prelude can't move under its own steam and has to be towed. It's still under construction, but once completed, the 660,000-ton vessel may be capable of producing enough gas to supply a city the size of Hong Kong.

It's also equipped with 6,700-horsepower engines, a 305-foot turret that will help it turn and withstand nasty weather, and one of the largest mooring systems in the world, which will keep it in place during category 5 hurricanes, the Telegraph reports. But you'll have to wait until 2017 to see it in action. That's when the Prelude will officially launch to Western Australia where it'll be attached via pipes to seabed wells and go to work for the next 25 years. It likely won't be the world's largest floating vessel for the duration: Shell says it's already building a facility that will be even bigger than the Prelude, the BBC notes.

The floating facility Prelude lies in the shipyard of Samsung Heavy Industry in Geoje, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Shell International N.V.)
In this Nov. 30, 2013 photo provided by Shell, Prelude lies in the shipyard in Geoje, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Shell International N.V.)
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