The Berge Empress
The Berge Empress was an oil ship that was in operation from 1976 to 2004 and underwent a series of name changes due to different ownerships. It was built by the Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Corporation in Chiba, Japan, and still ranks among the largest ships in the world with respect to gross tonnage.
Just over 1,252 feet long with a beam of 223 feet, four inches, the Empress had a draft of 95.18 feet. It was officially launched on December 23, 1975 and operated by the now-defunct Norwegian shipping company, Bergesen d.y. Gross tonnage was 211,359 tons; the net tonnage was 170,387 tons and had total deadweight tonnage of 423,725 tons.
After having been in operation for nearly a decade, the Empress appeared to be headed for the scrap yard when it was sold in 1985 to Maastow BV for approximately $13.2 million. It reached Taiwan in March 1986, ready to be demolished. Instead, just three months later, it was purchased again by Empress Sg Ltd. for between $9.5-10 million and put back into service.
At that point, it was renamed the Happy Empress. However, that name changed again just one year later when another sale to Empress Partner LP took place, at which point it was tabbed the Sea Empress. By 1996, the company’s one final name change took place, this time becoming the Empress Des Mers.
By 2004, the Berge Empress had finally reached its end, though it did last 19 years longer than the ship that had been built at the same time, the Berge Emperor. The Empress was taken to Chittagong, Bangladesh, where it was scrapped on March 27, 2004. It was one of at least three Ultra Large Crude Carriers that was decommissioned during 2004.