Monday | 11 January, 2010 | 2:10 am

Sail in style

By Modern Metals' staff

January 2010 - The Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International's new flagship cruise liner, is almost 50 percent larger than any other cruise ship ever built. It weighs 225,282 gross registered tons, it's 1,187 feet long and 208 feet wide, with a total capacity of 6,296 guests and 2,165 crew members from more than 65 countries. To put these immense numbers in perspective, Oasis is five times larger than the Titanic.

The ship is so large that its home port, Port Everglades, built a new terminal to accommodate it. And, ports across the Caribbean are following suit, as these behemoth ships (and their accompanying amenities and activities) are a new trend in the shipbuilding industry.

STX Europe, one of the world's largest builders of cruise ships, has either built or has in its order book the 15 largest cruise ships in the world. The Oasis series is being constructed at the Turku shipyard, which is one of three yards that are part of STX Finland Oy.

The Oasis of the Seas was constructed out of 500,000 steel individual parts; 150 miles of piping; 3,300 miles of electrical cables; and 158,503 gallons of paint. According to a Popular Mechanics article, which was published in the October 2008 issue, steel sheets 39 feet long and up to an inch thick are welded together to form the basic building blocks of the Oasis. "Components are fabricated and assembled separately, then joined to one another like so many giant Lego blocks."

And the Oasis of the Seas will soon have a sibling rival. Late this year, the Allure of the Seas is expected to make its debut. This ship will be roughly the same size, and, as a building project, "a sister ship is more straightforward to produce as part of a series, as the design work has already been completed," said Toivo Ilvonen, project manager of the Oasis class, in a press release.

STX Europe points out that the impact of these projects on the southwest Finland employment rate has been "significant." Calculations show that the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas have provided the shipyard and the maritime cluster with 12,000 man-years of labor. There were more than 3,200 workers at any given time helping to build the Oasis.

At the helm
Capt. William Wright has been employed by Royal Caribbean International since 1992. Currently he's the senior vice president of marine operations, and he had the honor of bringing the Oasis of the Seas safely home to Port Everglades in a 14-day transatlantic crossing.

In an article published by Business Day on Dec. 15, 2009, White noted that the ship handled some stormy conditions in the wintry north Atlantic "marvelously."

Wright was also at the helm of Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas when it made its debut as the world's largest cruise ship. MM

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