Building the world's biggest ship

In a dock yard the size of a large airfield, an army of engineers is building a ship like no other. it's longer than 4 football pitches and capable of carrying more than 18,000 containers. It's the world's largest ocean going cargo vessel – the Triple-E. Watch all episodes in Discovery Channel's documentary "Building the world's biggest ship".


Episode 1 – Huge hull:

The ship's skeleton

wls1-hull Play

The Triple-E’s unique U-shaped hull will be made from 60,000 tons of steel, erected by specially designed cranes. It must be large enough to swallow 18,000 containers, more than any ship before it, and sturdy enough to survive a pummelling by 25-metre high storm surges and cope in case of a collision with another ship. We follow engineers during tests as they attempt to overcome these and other challenges designing and building the ships’ supersize skeleton.



Episode 2 – Enormous Engine:

The ship's heart

wls2-engine Play

The engine room of the Triple-E is the key to creating the world’s biggest and most fuel-efficient ship. Today, shipping is the most environmentally friendly form of transport – but the carbon footprint of this ship needs to be even smaller. Designing a leaner and cleaner engine for the Triple-E will be a huge challenge. Not only must it use vastly less fuel per tonne of cargo compared with land vehicles, its engineered to re-write industry standards for energy efficiency. To achieve this radical new approach two separate engines will power this vast vessel. We follow engineers building and installing the world’s largest twin-engine unit on a container ship. Can they channel its power to a revolutionary propulsion system enabling two, 10-metre wide propellers to slice through the ocean to give the Triple-E unrivaled power and efficiency?



Episode 3 – Colossal cargo:

The ship's shoulders

wls3-episode Play

The Triple-E needs a deck bigger and stronger than any ship before it to hold its precious cargo. Globally, cargo ships currently lose 2,500 containers a year. Many fall overboard or are crushed during storms and high-ocean swells. Even though Maersk’s losses represent a tiny proportion of that figure, it knows even one lost container is one too many. Large waves can cause a ship to pitch or roll dangerously damaging cargo and injuring crew. Can engineers construct a deck that can ‘cling onto’ and protect all crew and cargo in the roughest of oceans?



Episode 4 – Command & Control:
The ship’s brain


wls4-episode Play

Building the ships’ command and control tower is a surprisingly complex challenge. Unlike traditional container ships (where the bridge is in the rear of the vessel), the bridge on the Triple-E will be nearer the front of the ship. This will allow containers to be stacked higher behind it and still give the captain a clear view ahead. Engineers must also position the funnels towards the back of the ship - a safer distance from the bridge and accommodation tower. We follow engineers test this design, by running smoke tests in one of the world’s largest wind tunnels. How will it affect the behaviour of exhaust from the funnels and, in particular, reduce the chance of smoke entering the engine rooms, or even the bridge and crews quarters?



Episode 5 – Dodging Disaster:
The ships’ immune system


wls5-painting Play

Keeping the cargo and crew safe in the event of a collision or fire is a huge challenge. More people have died during lifeboat drills than have been saved by lifeboats in real emergencies. We will follow engineers building, installing and testing the lifeboats, they hope are up to the challenge of being safely lowered the full height of the hull even in a storm. Engineers must also find a better way to fight a fire on the scale of the Triple-E than simply positioning lots of extinguishers all over the vessel. Will the evacuation and emergency response technologies work when tested under the pressure of a drill at sea?



Episode 6 – Setting sail:

Birth of the mega fleet

wls6-episode Play

As the first ship launches, we follow it begin its final and greatest test: sea-trials. During these seven adrenaline-pumping, action-packed days anything can, and often will, go wrong. Can the shipbuilding crew beat the clock as they race to fix the any problems in time for the ships maiden voyage? Simultaneously we follow engineers in large ports around the world as they race to upgrade quays and docks to accommodate the new supergiant vessels. The first port of call will also be the first time that the crew are faced with the challenge of loading this number of containers onto this – or any – ship in history.