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China’s new heavy-lift ship is one of the biggest ever built

Even if you’ve been a commercial fishing rig or a giant cruise ship before, it’s still a bit difficult to grasp just how enormous Cosco Shipping Co. Ltd’s “Guang Hua Kou” is. Launched last month at Guangdong Shipyard International, the Guang Hua Kou falls into a class of vessels known as heavy lift semi-submersible ships and, at 98,000 tons, it’s one of the biggest in existence.

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Heavy lift ships are designed to transport huge payloads — everything from other ships to oil drilling platforms and construction equipment– that are too big to carry on conventional shipping vessels. In order to load other ships, semi-submersible vessels like the Guang Hua Kou flood their ballast tanks to sink below the water’s surface and position their payload over the vessel’s submerged deck before pumping water out to lift the ship.

The Guang Hua Kou measures in at nearly 700 feet long and 225 feet wide, enabling it to carry even the largest offshore structures.