What was the largest ship to sink?

I think I heard somewhere that the Derbyshire was the largest commercial ship ever to sink. In any case I know that it was the largest British ship to sink. So which sunken ships were larger? I’ve tried web-searches without much success, other than to find out that the smaller Britannic was the largest passenger ship to sink.

I believe the Derbyshire, at 169,000 deadweight tons, was the largest commercial ship ever to sink. The mystery surrounding this 1980 event is that its destruction 230 miles off the coast of Okinawa happened so quickly that no mayday distress signal was sent.

If you add cargo to the weight, the Amoco Cadiz sank and spilled 230,000 tons of oil off the French coast. Not sure what the ship itself weighed.

Deadweight tonnage is the difference between the loaded and unloaded weight of the vessel, ie. the weight of cargo, crew, stores, etc. So the Cadiz’ cargo counts in this figure.

Gross tonnage is actually a measurement of cubic capacity, whatever the units might suggest. The Derbyshire’s gross tonnage was about 90000 tons. Note that gross tonnage can be deceptive for container ships which carry cargo on their decks.

The actual weight of the unladen ship is the “light displacement tonnage”, and is hardly ever quoted:


It’s hard to say what makes something the “largest” ship in a group, given that gross tonnage, length and deadweight tonnage are all likely to yield different results, although by all measures the current winner afloat seems to be the Jahre Viking, a Norwegian tanker, 1500 feet long, about half a million deadweight tons.

I think the Amoco Cadiz counts as larger.

More info on the Jahre Viking, just because it’s impressive: http://www.intertanko.com/tankerfacts/sizes/biggest.htm

Holy Moly. :eek:

Is the Yamato the largest ship to have been sunk due to delibertate action? Toland’s account (of the ordinance to sink it) is incredible.
The specs

To continue the hijack, or in this context, perhaps the piracy on the high seas, if you look around for the largest ship, you discover this:


This guy plans to build a 4500 foot long, 2.7 million ton displacement “floating city” which will cruise perpetually around the world with 50,000 condo-owning residents aboard. I wonder how insulted he would be if you said he was building the world’s largest houseboat. Actually, it looks more like a floating Miami beachfront highrise in the conceptual drawings.

More recent sources say he plans to launch this thing in 2006.

Its not going to happen.

I would guess not either, but at least it’s technically feasible, and the guy runs a real engineering firm with experience in large seagoing projects. Their funding will probably fizzle the first snag they hit.

BTW, I would like to make an earlier sentence of mine clearer - I said “I think the Amoco Cadiz counts as larger.”. Coming where it does, it sounds as if I’m suggesting it was larger than the Jahre Viking, which was certainly NOT true. I mean to suggest that I would count it as a larger sunken ship than the Derbyshire.


Originally posted by xiao_wenti
Is the Yamato the largest ship to have been sunk due to delibertate action?

No, I don’t thinks so. The Shinano was originally a Yamato-class (65,000 ton class, 72,000 ton full-load) battleship that was finished in 1944 as the world’s largest aircraft carrier until the U.S.'s supercarriers of the 1950’s. The Shinano was in the 68,000 ton class (73,000 ton full-load).