Watch Heavy Seas Bend And Twist A Giant Ship Like Taffy

The Skagen Maersk is 1,138.5 feet long, and weighs over 100,000 tons. That sounds pretty big and strong. But when faced with some big waves, the whole thing undulates and groans like a bucking bronco. This is crazy.

We've seen videos of big ocean swells before, but we haven't seen just what it can do to the innards of a huge, ocean-going vessel. The power of the sea puts massive forces on the ship, forcing it to bend to its will. Even deep in the belly of the ship, you can see one end of a corridor swaying back and forth.

If I was on board, I'd probably jump off as soon as I could, because That Does Not Look Right.

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But everything is all right, according to the video, and big ships are designed to twist about in heavy seas, much like airplane wings bend in turbulence. If they weren't flexible, they would break.

That doesn't make it feel any better though. I'd be putting on my lifejacket.

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DISCUSSION

GeorgeWilliamHerbert
GeorgeWilliamHerbert

All normal. On the middle on-deck segment I counted ten container stansions running forwards; 40 foot containers, usually 6-8 foot gap, that puts the camera about five hundred feet aft of the point the sight line runs out as the bow starts to curve in. A couple or three feet of flex in 500 feet isn't unusual. And these were lighter seas, the ship wasn't even pitching in the waves...

The various fears elsewhere in comment about joints and leaks at seams miss how steel ships are actually built. The plates and bulkheads and decks are all full penetration welded all around all sides. When you're done it's one big piece of metal. The welds approach or exceed 100% joint strength efficiency if done correctly.

Yes, I am an engineer, and a degreed Naval Architect, though I don't and didn't work in the field. And hobbyist welder.